Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Let's Bring Kevin Back To Atlanta, Let's Bring Him Back Home...

You could say this posting started with this tweet:  

This was not what I wanted to see what happen after UL successfully went Duck Hunting and sent the University of Oregon Men's Basketball back home after beating them in the Sweet Sixteen and earned a spot in the Elite 8.  
We had lost to Duke back in November during the final game of the Battle For Atlantis tournament  during Thanksgiving. Honestly, we could have won had UL not lost one of their star players, Gorgui Dieng to a broken wrist. Following the loss, Rick Pitino told the team, "Don't worry guys. We're going to see them in March. We're going to have Gorgui back, and we're going to beat them." At least Rick was trying to be optimistic.  

Fast forward to Easter Sunday, where those words came true. I kept telling myself all weekend that we have what we didn't have in November. Gorgui. He was a key player in this tournament. 

With my Easter dress returned to my closet, I slipped on my lucky sweatpants and shirt where it was time to once again cheer on my beloved Cardinals in what I thought would be a game of seeing just how long Duke would be kind enough to not run up the score.  

We had decided that maybe it was best if we watched some of the game on mute. We wouldn't have to deal with the commentary and the screaming of thirty thousand some odd fans.  

Repeating what their coach told them back in November, UL stormed the court and did work.  

Again, with the T.V. on mute, I looked away for a second and then saw one of the saddest pictures I have ever seen. 

With 6:21 minutes left to play in the first half, and Louisville up against Duke, the inevitable happened. I'll spare you with the details, because we have all seen it.

Kevin's first words to Rick? 

In an exclusive ESPN interview, Kevin said, "I honestly didn't feel pain, I felt shock, I have never felt anything like that in my entire life." 

Following the horrific scene, I immediately turned to Twitter only to see my time line filled with tweets like this: 

 After witnessing what many are saying the worst sports injury they have ever witnessed and both teams in tears, UL somehow managed to get back on the court and play like they have never played before. If they could just get to halftime and get an update on Kevin, maybe they could pull this game off. 

 Rick talked to the players, and following what probably what was the most inspirational halftime speech any coach has given, Rick sent the team back on the court with more than 12 minutes left in halftime. He didn't want the team sitting there thinking about Kevin. He wanted them back on the court warming up for what would be an emotional and inspirational second half. 

At one point during the game, the top five trending hash tags were about Louisville, or Kevin Ware. 

I would have loved to know what Rick said to them, because Louisville somehow managed to pull away from Duke, and won the game for Kevin. Towards the end of the second half when they had realized that they had earned the final spot in the Final Four, Kevin's best friend Chane Behanhan slipped on one of Kevin's extra #5 jersey's honoring their injured player. 

During the post game presentation of the trophy to the team and the announcement of the All Midwest team, Rick took over the microphone and asked that the arena stop what they were doing and chant Kevin for two solid minutes. 

Kevin would go on to have surgery Sunday night fixing his injury at the local hospital two minutes away, where Indianapolis 500 injuries are taken.

Rick Pitino stayed the night in Indianapolis with his son Richard Pitino (former UL assistant coach, now head coach at Florida International University University of Minnesota ) where Rick checked in on Kevin and took him the  Regional Championship t-shirt and hat. And oh yea, he let Kevin keep guard of the trophy.

The surgery was Sunday night. This picture was tweeted MONDAY MORNING: 

Literally less than 24 hours after the horrific scene, he was up, on crutches, and attempting to walk. 
Following the successful two hour surgery, medical professionals have said that he could be back on the court in SIX MONTHS. I have no doubt he could be back and ready to go. As Kevin said, "This is a minor setback for a major comeback." 

Monday morning on Twitter arrived, and Kevin was still the talk of the nation, and even John Calipari sent his words of encouragement. 

Kevin's injury managed to land headlines on Good Morning America, World News Tonight With Diane Sawyer and many other national media outlets including the highly coveted cover Sports Illustrated. 

The words for this cover are just priceless. 

Per the doctors that worked on Kevin said that if they were pleased with their work, and everything seemed to be okay, Kevin would be released to return home to the team Tuesday afternoon. And he did exactly just that. 

With the NCAA regional trophy in hand, Kevin returned home to Louisville, where he made his first stop at UL's practice facility to be reunited with the team as they began practice for their Final Four game against the Cinderella/Number 9 seeded Witchata State. 

This is just one of about twenty pictures taken on Instagram with him and his teammates. 

Sorry for the posting of pictures, but there is no other way to tell the story of America's team. And just because I'm on a picture roll, I'll leave you with one that when I first saw it, I shed a little tear. 

#L1C5 #WinForWare 


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