Louisville rallies behind injured teammate
A gruesome injury that left Louisville guard Kevin Ware with a broken leg plunged Lucas Oil Stadium into horrified silence, with coach Rick Pitino wiping away tears and shocked teammates openly weeping during Sunday’s Midwest Regional final.
Ware’s right leg bent in such an awkward and frightening angle that CBS stopped showing replays shortly after the fall in the NCAA tournament matchup against Duke.
“The bone’s 6 inches out of his leg and all he’s yelling is, ‘Win the game, win the game,’” Pitino said. “I’ve not seen that in my life. … Pretty special young man.”
Viewers who saw the injury on TV reacted on social networks and #KevinWare shot to one of the top worldwide trending topics on Twitter.
Video of the injury was posted on YouTube. CBS showed two slow-motion replays of the injury right after it happened then not again, concentrating on the reaction of people around him. The segment was not replayed during CBS’ halftime coverage. CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus says that was because of the graphic nature of the footage.
With 6:33 left in the first half, Ware tried to contest a 3-pointer by Tyler Thornton. Ware’s leg buckled when he landed, bending almost at a right angle.
School officials said Ware was taken to Methodist Hospital with a broken lower right leg. Louisville spokesman Kenny Klein said hospital officials told the school that Ware was “resting comfortably” and that the pain was “under control.”
Pitino said Ware’s leg broke in two spots.
“Basically, the bone popped out of the skin,” he said. “It’ll take a year to come back.”
The injury happened right in front of Pitino and the Louisville bench, and several Cardinals were overcome with emotion.
Louisville forward Wayne Blackshear fell to the floor, crying, and Chane Behanan looked as if he was going to be sick on the court, kneeling on his hands and feet. Peyton Siva sat a few feet away, a hand covering his mouth.
In the immediate aftermath, those who had been watching the game on television took to social media to express their concern. Former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann, who famously sustained a broken leg during a Monday night football game against the New York Giants, tweeted that, “Watching Duke/ Louisville my heart goes out to Kevin Ware.”
As the final seconds ticked down in Louisville’s 85-63 victory, Behanan put Ware’s jersey on and stood at the end of the Louisville bench, screaming. Cardinals fans chanted “Kevin Ware! Kevin Ware!”
“We won this for him,” Pitino said. “We were all choked up with emotion for him. We’ll get him back to normal. We’ve got great doctors, great trainers.”
Ware played his high-school ball in Georgia and the Final Four is in Atlanta, just adding to the emotion for the victorious Cardinals.