Ware said he has heard from several of his NBA idols, including Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and Charles Barkley. The Louisville guard said he has even heard from first lady Michelle Obama and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
For the soft-spoken Ware, the support and media attention has meant more interviews than he ever imagined.
“I had no idea I would get this kind of attention,” he said. “I’m one of those guys who just likes to play basketball. But the injury opened up a lot of peoples’ eyes and I really appreciate all the support. It really means a lot.”
But as Ware cherishes the flood of warm wishes, he’s also dealing with the irony of the injury’s occurrence with 6:33 remaining in the first half against Duke.
He leaped high near the right sideline to defend a 3-point attempt, similar to a defensive play he made without incident in Louisville’s game in November against Duke in the Bahamas. This time he landed awkwardly, with the leg going in two different directions.
“That was frustrating because it happened the same exact way, me making the play,” Ware said. “I was thinking then about just blocking the shot and that was what I was thinking this time. This was just different.”
Ware also lamented the timing of his injury, a recollection that made him pause for a moment. A key part of Louisville’s guard rotation who often substituted for starters Peyton Siva and Russ Smith, Ware had overcome a one-game suspension in January and was coming off a career-best, 11-point effort in Friday’s tournament win over Oregon.
Pitino said that performance typified Ware’s maturation process.
“Kevin has gone from being a quiet, unsure guy to being a very mature man,” the coach said. “Kevin was very quiet, he kept to himself and didn’t show many emotions. In the last couple of months, he’s come out of his shell and is showing his emotions.”