Here’s the thing: I’m not the biggest Tyler Hansbrough fan. Never have been, never will be. I think he is a very solid, very good COLLEGE basketball player. I think he will have mediocre success at the next level, and that’s about it.
Hansbrough is not a good shooter. He can hit the occasional midrange jump shot, and his free throw percentage has been hovering between 73-80 percent since he arrived at Carolina in 2005. He is a good scorer, but nothing special. He has never finished in the top 10 in the country, and that includes last year, when he won Player of the Year.
He is a good rebounder too, but again, not the best, never even breaking the top 15. He doesn’t block many shots. He doesn’t get many steals. In fact, he is never really at the top of any statistical categories.
However, there is one thing I admire in Tyler, and it is something which seems to have disappeared from all sports.
I admire his absolute, unbelievable, unrelenting passion—his drive, not to be the best at his position, not even to be the best player in the country, but his will to win: every loose ball, every rebound, and every single game. It has been a long time since I have seen that kind of fire in any athlete’s eyes.
Hansbrough is what a true fan of sports expects of his athlete.
You must want to practice, you must want to learn, and you must NEED to win more than anyone else. Hustle, a word that has almost disappeared in the NBA and is beginning to disappear in college basketball, epitomizes what makes Hansbrough so special.
For someone who isn’t a fan of Hansbrough, he still has the ability to make me chuckle in disbelief when I am watching a game and he can go into a crowd of four people, get fouled by all of them at once, and still end up with the ball. It is almost as if he is the only one trying. What happened to this?
What happened to the football player that refuses to run out of bounds, the basketball player that does not take one play off, the baseball player who runs through first base every time he makes contact?
Instead we live in an age where RBs run out of bounds more often than not, basketball players regularly take plays (and in some cases quarters) off, and a host of baseball players are happy to jog down the first base line assuming they just won’t be able to beat the throw.
Are you serious? You get paid to play a sport. If you aren’t going to go all out on every freaking play, then you have no business playing in the first place.
Believe me, I am aware these players exist and there are still some of them out there, but in my opinion things would be a lot more interesting if everyone was like Adrian Peterson, Marion Barber III, Ichiro Suzuki, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Garnett—if everyone...was a Hansbrough.