Without a healthy Kendall Marshall, North Carolina’s National Title and Final 4 hopes are finished right? I mean a team can’t possibly overcome the injury of such a valuable player, especially with possibility of playing a Kentucky or a Kansas to win a championship right?
I think history provides some hope to North Carolina fans. There’s that and the possibility that Kendall Marshall is Wolverine and got his cast off already, or that the Heels still have 3 1st round picks left playing in Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller, and John Henson, but let’s go with history for the moment.
In 1980 Hall of Fame Los Angeles Laker center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sprained his ankle in game 5 of the NBA Championship series with the Philadelphia 76ers. He couldn’t play in game 6 and the series was headed back to Philadelphia on a team that featured Dr. J Julius Erving. Magic Johnson played all 5 positions and the Lakers won the game and the title.
The year is 2008 and Tiger Woods was at the height of his golfing powers. He defeated the world’s best players at the most difficult major in golf, the U.S. Open, with a double stress fracture in his left knee.
In 2004, Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling pitched with a torn tendon in the World Series and the Divisional Playoffs. Remember the bloody sock? Most felt at the time of the tear, Schilling wouldn’t return. Score one for medical science.
We don’t even have to go into Jeremy Lin and the New York Knicks… You know the story. Knicks in a funk and injured, Lin is at the end of the bench. Lin starts playing, averages nearly 15 points a game and New York has a shot at the playoffs.
Maybe Tar Heel fans need a college basketball example. How could one forget Georgia Tech’s 2004 Final 4 run? It was the pinnacle of Yellow Jacket basketball. B.J Elder Georgia Tech’s versatile leading scorer sprained his ankle early in the Sweet 16 game against Nevada.
He played only 15 minutes in the Jacket’s regional located St. Louis. He didn’t score in Georgia Tech’s Elite 8 game against the Kansas Jayhawks that the Jackets won to send them to the Final 4. Hmm the Tar Heels are in St. Louis and they could potentially meet Kansas in the Elite 8. That sounds kind of familiar to me.
Look there’s no question the Heels are better with a healthy Kendall Marshall, and we still don’t know if he won’t be near full strength by Friday. If he’s not there are enough examples in sports that you better not count out the Tar Heels to make it beyond this weekend, and maybe win the whole darn thing.