Everybody always talks about the money, but nobody talks about the pain.Sure, some athletes play professional sports primarily for the money but for most it’s about winning championships, no matter the cost. If you’ve been watching the NBA conference semi-finals, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Let’s start with Brian Shaw. Shaw has two sets of stitches on his right index finger, a sprained left ankle and an arthritic right big toe, but hasn’t missed a game yet.
In fact, after he cut his finger in game one and had it stitched up in the locker room, Shaw came back and scored 13 points in the third quarter, carrying the load for the Lakers.
Shaw’s stats from the last two games are 22 points, 15 rebounds, and three assists in game three and 22 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists in game four. He might not be dominating in his usual way, but he is doing the little things and doing them well enough to make sure the Lakers keep winning.
Then there were Doug Christie’s heroics in game three of the Sacramento-Dallas series. Christie was in the locker room, getting his newly twisted ankle attended to, when Predrag Stojakovic was carried into the locker room with an ankle injury of his own. It was obvious Stojakovic was done playing for the night, so Christie insisted on going back out with his ankle taped.
The result: a perfect 6 for 6 from the field and 6 for 6 from the line for 20 points. More importantly, it gave the Kings a pivotal win in game three in Dallas after they had lost game two at home.
Without Christie coming back and providing the spark down the stretch, the Kings would be down 1-2 in the series, instead of up 2-1 and holding the home court edge once again (the Kings have since wrapped up the series 4-1).
In game three of the Eastern Conference semi-finals between the Nets and the Hornets, Jason Kidd butted heads with David Wesley and had his head cut open just above his left eye for his trouble. Multiple stitches later, and with a face so swollen it impaired his vision, Kidd was back on the floor.
Kidd was listed as questionable for game four. Knowing the Nets needed him to play if they were to have any chance of winning, Kidd suited up for the game.
His right eye swollen, bruised and bandaged, Kidd looked like a battered boxer as he led the team to victory. He knocked down a key 3-pointer in the fourth to help the Nets pull away and finished the game with 24 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.
Yes, professional athletes in America get paid an awful lot of money, but when they put their bodies on the line—when they go that extra mile to help the team, as Shaw, Christie, and Kidd have done—that’s what makes it all worthwhile.