The gruesome injury to Louisville sophomore guard Kevin Ware on Sunday in the Elite Eight against Duke was a reminder of how insignificant a game of basketball can be.
And judging by the reaction from both teams, it was a reminder of the humanity present in sports.
Louisville players Chase Behanan, Wayne Blackshear and Montrezl Harrell immediately collapsed to the floor after Ware's bone in his right leg snapped through his skin. Russ Smith was sobbing uncontrollably. Duke players turned with their heads buried in their jerseys in disbelief. Both Rick Pitino and Mike Krzyzewski were teary-eyed. It was one of the most sickening injuries you'll see in basketball.
Behanan said after the game, via ESPN: "I don't remember the last time I cried. But I just sobbed. I was speechless, just speechless. I kept asking why. I just dropped to the floor."
When he landed, I heard it. I heard it, and then I seen what happened come out [his bone] and I immediately, I just like feel I almost didn't feel nothing and it was really hard for me to pull myself together because I didn't think in a million years I'd see something like that.
Despite being in agonizing pain, Ware made sure to call his teammates over. Per the New York Times, he told them that he would be fine and to win the game for him.
It was one of those moments when nothing else matters but a player's health. It was hard enough to move on as a spectator. You can only imagine what must have been going through players' heads after seeing such an injury up close.
The distress evident on the faces of the players was something to behold. Rarely do you see such an outpouring of emotion, such a deep concern pervading through the arena. It went from being a high-octane, raucous game in the NCAA tournament to a standstill, all in the blink of an eye.
The good news is, Ware underwent successful surgery to repair his fractured right tibia, according to USA Today. It's likely that he plays again for the Cardinals.
Ware's injury on Sunday was a brutal reminder of the dangers present for athletes. It was also a glimpse of how caring we can be as a population—there for each other in moments of distress and heartache.
March Madness has produced plenty of unforgettable moments throughout the years. The level of compassion surrounding Kevin Ware on Sunday marked another unforgettable moment in NCAA tournament history.