Kevin Ware — crutches and all — was smiling ear to ear as his Louisville Cardinals basked in the glory of their first National Championship since 1986. Ware played the supportive soldier, unselfishly rooting for his team. He was Louisville’s emotional amphetamine throughout the final two games of their conquest.
Now, as the blinding March Madness lights dim, the emotional adrenaline gives way to the harsh reality ahead for Ware. For starters, a long rehab with no certainty of regaining full strength and a Wally Pipp special — compliments of junior backup Luke Hancock. The George Mason transfer not only performed like an NBA lottery pick, but made a fierce claim to Ware’s starting guard spot next season. Hancock led Louisville with 20 points in its semifinal victory and stroked a gang of clutch threes (5) for a team-high 22-points in the chip.
As much as Ware enjoyed the win, he’s got to be feeling conflicted about the way Hancock shined on the golden stage. Hancock’s coming out party might be at Ware’s expense.
Ware’s March Madness experience has been a whirlwind of fortune and misfortune. One minute he’s a little-known sophomore guard starting in the Midwest Regional finals against Duke. The next minute, Ware wrecks his lower right leg on a freak play, and in the process, rides sympathy to social media fame. Mentions of Ware on Facebook skyrocketed 3.7 million percent, making him the most talked about player in the entire tourney, according to gulflive.com.
He’s the talk of the town right now. Hopefully, he won’t become the forgotten man in Louisville in ‘14.