THE BLOG
04/04/2013 06:56 pm ET Updated Jun 04, 2013

NCAA Final Four: The Favorites Are Now the Darlings

There is an amazing human spirit in all of us and sports often brings it out and we can relate. We enjoy. We laugh. We think. We cry, as the great Jim Valvano said.

We agonize over our favorite teams and sometimes we sympathize with them, and we do it with the winners and with the losers. Sometimes we jump on the bandwagon of the winners, front-runners are we? But other times we root against the favorites and knowingly side with the underdogs as that is where the human spirit just loves to be.

Except for this year.

Louisville's Kevin Ware jumped out to defend the perimeter and he jumped high. But his flight was too high and the landing wasn't smooth and it caused the bone of his right leg to break in a terrible way, a way that is not often seen on national tv, unless you are watching a Spielberg war movie.

Ware suffered a compound fracture of his right tibia and was removed from the gym in Indianapolis by highly trained medical and EMS staff, rolled out on a stretcher, the way no athlete wants to leave a game -- any game.

On his way out, he asked the technicians to stop so he could speak to his teammates with a message any one of us would provide to our friends and loves ones, digging deep within ourselves to let our friends know "everything will be alright," and "don't worry about me, I'm okay." He repeated it over and over again.

But, that's only half the story of what was buzzing inside the injured Kevin Ware's mind as he suffered an unimaginably horrific injury live and in color in front of the cameras of CBS Sports which recorded the injury in super-slo motion, and thankfully, chose not to air the gruesome footage.

The rest of the story is about that human spirit within an athlete, the human spirit within Ware as he gathered himself from the floor to the stretcher, heading towards an awaiting ambulance that usually goes home without as much as a single passenger in tow. Somehow, within the pain, the hysteria and realization of what a terrible injury he had just suffered, somehow in the full state of shock the human body automatically goes into when it experiences the jolt of pain and trauma suffered, young Ware processed thoughts that only true competitors process.

He reassured his teammates that he'd be okay, but he asked for just one thing.

He wanted a "W."

As Ware suffered the injury, the outcome of the NCAA tournament might've shifted on its axis. The "Cinderella Story" of FGCU was swept away to the beaches of Ft. Meyers while the Wichita State Shockers, a worthy Final 4 participant for sure, just hasn't captured the imagination of the average basketball fan. So, that's leaves us with the favorite, the Number One seed ... the Rick Pitino-led Louisville Cards, who somehow became America's darlings, all because of that human spirit inside a young guard named Kevin Ware who has brought out the human spirit in all of us.