Kevin Ware #5 of the Louisville Cardinals talks with teammate Luke Hancock #11 as Ware is tended to by medical personnel. (Getty Images)
No matter what school walks away with the power and the glory of the Men's NCAA Basketball Championship on April 8, Kevin Ware will always be remembered as a big winner in our hearts.
The word "hero" is grossly overused by bad sportswriters, but in this case it applies to him. A hero is someone who puts the interests of other people over his or her concerns, right? By that definition, America has a new sports hero. You'd have to be really, really cynical not to draw strength from Kevin's Ware example of heroism.
Ware is the guard from Louisville who injured his leg Sunday during the Louisville-Duke game, in one of the most gruesome sports injuries ever shown on American television. Louisville went on to trounce Duke and advance to the Final Four next weekend.
Sports fans likened the severity of the young player's mangled leg to the time in 1985 when Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann's career effectively ended when New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor tackled Theismann and broke his leg.
The Ware play presented the most unfortunate case of a déjà vu. In a horrific scene nobody who saw it will soon forget — CBS veteran play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz later said that he couldn't get it out of his head long after the game ended — Ware fell to the basketball floor during the game. He was untouched, as it turned out — and was removed from the arena on a gurney.
As Ware suffered in agony, he had the presence of mind to reassure his stunned teammates that he would be OK and he urged them to go out there and win the game. It was an inspired — and clearly inspiring — move.
Ultimately, Ware's was a selfless act, the kind of team-first act that you don't hear too much about any more in our money-mad sports and entertainment popular culture.
By the time the game resumed, after a lengthy, disturbing medical interlude, Ware was on his way to a hospital. He underwent surgery for his broken leg that evening. In the saddest irony of all, the Final Four will be played in Atlanta, Ware's hometown.
He had hoped to win the national championship on the court. His presence and spirit will be conspicuous in the Atlanta arena. Louisville was the No. 1 seed going into the NCAA tournament, a fast, strong, talented team on offense and defense and well coached, as ever, by Rick Pitino.
Few expect Wichita State, Syracuse, or Michigan — the other universities competing the Final Four — to defeat Louisville. And now, with the memory of Kevin Ware's courage under fire burned into our brains, Louisville has become the sentimental favorite as well.
Jon Friedman writes the Media Web column for MarketWatch.com. He is also the author of "Forget About Today: Bob Dylan's Genius for (Re)invention, Shunning the Naysayers and Creating a Personal Revolution. Click here to order a copy. Read more reports from Jon Friedman — Click Here Now.
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