Louisville romped in the second half against Duke to defeat the Blue Devils 85-63 for a trip to its second Final Four, but the news of the day was the devastating injury to Cardinals guard Kevin Ware.
Attempting to defend a three-point shot, the sophomore guard landed awkwardly on his right leg, causing it to break in two places and the bone to protrude the skin. The injury occurred in front of the Cardinals’ bench, causing teammates in to recoil in horror. On the floor, Chane Behanan collapsed to the ground. Russ Smith sobbed. Rick Pitino wiped a tear form his eye.
“It was really hard for me to pull myself together because I didn't ever think in a million years I would see something like that,” Smith told reporters after the game. “And that happened, especially, to a guy like Kevin Ware, I was completely devastated.”
On the court, Louisville must replace Ware’s production. He has become increasingly more valuable off the bench for the Cardinals in recent weeks, but Louisville is one of the deepest teams in the Final Four. Guard Tim Henderson played seven minutes against Duke, as many as he played in the rout over round of 64 opponent North Carolina A&T.
Here’s a roundup of the reaction to Ware’s injury:
► Peyton Siva posted to Instagram a photo of Ware, fresh out of surgery, with the Midwest region trophy.
► The Louisville Courier-Journal’s C.L. Brown explains how the Cardinals found the motivation to win after Ware’s injury.
► Eric Crawford of Louisville’s WDRB takes us moment by moment from the injury to the postgame comments.
► Sports Illustrated’s Luke Winn spoke to Ware’s mother, Lisa Junior, who watched the game from home in Conyers, Ga. “You still cannot comprehend the horror of a mother watching it on TV, when CBS opted to show the play again. 'When I saw the replay,' Lisa said, 'I lost it.'"
► Sports on Earth’s Will Leitch delves into the decision to show the injury, to post a GIF of the injury or not (The Big Lead, Buzzfeed, Deadspin and Yahoo posted GIFs; ESPN, SB Nation, SI and USA Today did not, Leitch notes).
“We can moralize all we want and tell ourselves we're taking the high road,” Leitch wrote. “But we are human beings. If someone turns on the stove and tells us it's hot, we can't blame them when we go ahead and put our hand on it. We can only blame ourselves.”
► Through the evening Sunday and into Monday morning, media organizations debated whether or not to air replays of Ware’s injury. The video can be found easily on YouTube. WARNING: The video of Ware’s injury is extremely graphic. Do not click on the video if you do not want to see a graphic leg injury.
► Clay Travis noted the morality play brought about on Twitter for those who opted to post video of the injury, noting that Oscar-nominated film The Blind Side opens with a scene of a horrific sports injury.
► Forbes contributor Dan Diamond looked into the morality of college athletics and where does Ware go from here from an NCAA and institution perspective.
► Many reacted on Twitter, but the most resonant comments came from athletes who sustained similar injuries, including former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann and former Louisville running back Michael Bush.