No one plays harder than Tyler Hansbrough!
No one has a bigger heart than Tyler Hansbrough!!
Tyler Hansbrough cures cancer!!!
We would not have been surprised at all to hear that last declaration from CBS announcers Dick Enberg or Jay Bilas during Saturday’s telecast of North Carolina’s exciting win over Louisville in the NCAA Tournament East Regional Finals. A few of my boys and I caught the game at one of our favorite haunts and by the middle of the second half it was clear that the talented and respected duo were beyond smitten with Tar Heel junior Tyler Hansbrough, the three-time All-American. Smitten to almost comedic proportions.
In time we were laughing out loud at the incessant fawning and lofty assertions.
Oh my Tyler Hansbrough!!!!
Nobody outworks Tyler Hansbrough!!!!!
Tyler Hansbrough stops global warming!!!!!!
Before I go on, let me be clear: Nothing I’m about to say is meant to diminish Hansbrough. Not in the least. His 28-point 13-rebound performance in UNC’s 83-73 victory was for the ages. The 6-9 forward hit 12 of 17 shots including two consecutive HUGE baskets after Louisville had erased a 12-point deficit to tie the game in the second half. From then on it was, quite frankly, as if Tyler Hansbrough was the only player on the floor. He was a downright beast hitting the kind of shots said Cardinal coach Rick Pitino, an opposing coach would “pray that he takes.”
‘Cept Hansbrough was knocking ’em down like me and my boys were knocking back, well, never mind.
Moreover, he seems to be a nice, understated, humble kid. A Missouri native, he’s certainly shown me something.
I’m not sure what kind of pro Hansbrough will be, but he’s already one of the all-timers in college ball. He deserves his props.
But the way Enberg and Bilas were gushing you’d have thought Tyler Hansbrough was the reincarnation of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, David Thompson or, dare I say, Larry Bird. Their tone bounced from reverent to near-hysterical.
At one point I thought the veteran Enberg might start hyperventilating.
He’s a flailing crocodile, a whirling dervish!!!!!!!
To be fair, this isn’t just about the CBS duo. Much of the sports media have been lovin’ them some Tyler Hansbrough all season long. The kid gets a bloody nose earlier this season and he becomes Rocky. In fact, a colleague, Mike Freeman of CBSSportsline.com, first wrote about the media’s fascination with TH in early March. In a year that produced an array of stars on top teams – Michael Beasley, Derrick Rose, Kevin Love, just to name three – Hansbrough has been largely ordained by sports’ chattering class as the very best of them all.
He’s certainly in the discussion but he’s not so clearly better than the other top college players that his selection as player of the year should be delivered with a “Duh.”
So what are we talking about here?
To my boys it was pretty clear: “Isn’t he like the first white college superstar in like forever?” one of them said.
I thought for a moment, and the only name I could come up with was Christian Laettner, the former Duke star who left college ball in 1992. (Like most people, I completely blanked on J.J. Reddick, another Dukie who was the 2006 Naismith winner but was also a polarizing figure and pretty much an NBA bust. I couldn’t come with 2005 Gonzaga star Adam Morrison, either. See: Reddick.)
Is it really that simple? Even as our nation is on the cusp of potentially electing a black president, one who’s bravely forced us to talk about race in a manner unlike any politician ever, are we still so transparent that some of us will just get over-the-top giddy over a white guy who can ball?
Primarily, I am annoyed at notions that evolve around “hard working” and “heart.” to assert, even in the emotion of the moment, that no one works harder that Tyler Hansbrough is asinine and unquantifiable. It feeds into the stereotype that white athletes “work hard” to achieve success while black athletes are “gifted.” Write this down: There is not an elite athlete in America that did not work hard to achieve greatness. Yes, some may have worked harder than others but to ultilize a particular hustle play to assert that no one works harder than that player is just stupid.
As for the declaration, based on Hansbrough hitting a big, tough shot down the stretch (of which he hit many on Saturday), that no one has a bigger heart, please. Heart is sports is on display every day and night on fields and courts throughout the nation and in every sport. How many big, touch in-the-clutch plays have you seen in your lifetime? Too many to count, probably. Elite athletes, who perform their best at the most challenging moments – on the biggest stages – all have heart. On that assessment, Hansbrough is just one among many bigger-heart ballers.
A generation ago, in 1987, we had this same discussion regarding the media’s views and descriptions of Larry Bird relative to the other great players of his age, particularly his clear peer, Magic. Dennis Rodman called Bird “overrated” by the media, which selected postseason awards. Isiah Thomas, then the littlest “Bad Boy,” defended his teammate: “I think Larry is a very, very good basketball player. He’s an exceptional talent. But I have to agree with Rodman. If he were black, he’d be just another good guy.”
Thomas, who was articulating the frustrations of many players in that era, meant that if Bird were black, the media would view him just as it did black stars, not deify him as many did. But rather than use the comment as a catalyst for an honest self-assessment and a discussion about how white stars were described relative to black ones, the media turned on Thomas like enemy armies on Spartan’s “300.” accusing him of racism. Ultimately, Thomas was forced to apologize.
Twenty years later, here we are again.
Tyler Hansbrough is unbelievable!!!!!!!!
Tyler Hansbrough will never be outworked!!!!!!!!!
Tyler Hansbrough rebuilds New Orleans!!!!!!!!!!
Tyler Hansbrough will no doubt be the darling of San Antonio. And what a stage. With an all-No. 1 seed Final Four, the Tar Heel has the chance to cement the legend that has already been crafted for him.
That is, unless he finds Osama bin Laden between now and then.