March Madness began in the middle of last month, but the real madness of the NCAA Basketball Tournament happened on March 31.
That’s when the Louisville Cardinals were in a highly anticipated matchup with the Duke Blue Devils. Both teams had legendary coaches leading them. Louisville coach Rick Pitino was making his fifth
Elite Eight appearance, and No. 13 for Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.
The game was very intense and competitive as both teams were playing hard knowing a Final Four appearance was at stakes.
Then the 6:33 mark of the first half hit.
That’s when Louisville sophomore guard Kevin Ware went up for an attempt to block Duke’s Tyler Thornton’s three-point shot.
When Ware landed from the shot block attempt, his right leg snapped midway between his ankle and knee, the bone skewing almost at a right angle which most sports writers claim to be the worst injury ever witnessed.
Ware fell right in front of the Louisville bench and his teammates turned away in horror, assistant coach Wyking Jones ran away from the bench soon as he saw Ware’s leg.
Players cupped their hands over their mouths. Some turned away at the sight.
Pitino went to help Ware get up and then eventually saw his leg, which was broken in two places.
Ware’s teammates were in total shock.
Junior forward Wayne Blackshear fell to the floor in sadness. Chane Behanan, who was a close friend of Ware, was close to passing out kneeling on his hands and feet.
Pitino covered Ware’s leg with a towel to calm things down a bit, and then he gathered the team around Ware as he wanted to send a message to his teammates. With the bone popping out six inches from his leg, Ware told the team: “Win the game, I’ll be fine. Just win the game.”
After Ware’s injury, Louisville played inspired basketball as they went on a run in the second half to win the game 85-63 and punched their ticket to the Final Four. But everyone in attendance will never forget what they witnessed in the first half.
Ware had successful surgery hours later and was able to walk on crutches the next day.
“I honestly didn’t even feel pain, I felt more of a shock,” said Ware during an emotional interview with ESPN later.
Ware expects to be able to play basketball again as soon as next year.