Thoughts On The Tyler Incident

As if he already hadn't done so, Tyler Hansbrough DEFINITELY secured his place in the Carolina Basketball pantheon today.

Tyler Hansbrough and a bloody nose

For one, he put up 26 and 17 in a must win game against Dook. If we lose, we end up the #5 seed in the ACC Tournament and have to play in a dreaded Les Robinson Invitational game on Thursday night. Instead, as a direct result of Tyler's herculean effort, we share the regular season ACC title with UVA and get the #1 seed in the tournament.

For two, he now has his iconic moment. Just like Eric Montross' cut under the eye in 1992, Tyler's busted nose will be a holy act of bravery and sacrifice that Carolina fans talk about for years to come. It doesn't matter that it happened at the end of the game or that it was an accident. (I am one of the very few Heels fans that thinks that the elbow from Gerald Henderson was nothing more than the by-product of aggressive play.) 10 years from now, everyone - me included - will remember that Tyler ended up bloodied in a Duke game as a result of a "questionable" play by some nameless Dookie thug (that never amounted to anything in the NBA) and that Tyler's blood sacrifice rallied the team to victory.

My favorite part of the incident? After taking the blow, Tyler fell to the ground and lay still for a brief moment. He then gathered himself and stood up looking for a fight. He wasn't just mad - he was crying mad, with blood streaming down his face and tears welling in his eyes. For me, that will be the lasting image and the lasting emotion. I suspect that the tears were from the pain of a busted nose, but I like to think that they came in part from the competitive fire that burns in his gut.

When I was a kid, my dad always exhorted me to play the game with heart like Tar Heel legends Phil Ford and Bobby Jones. If I'm fortunate enough to have a son, I know that I will (attempt to) inspire him with tales of Tyler's grit, his whirling dervish effort, the fanatical gleam he gets in his eye when he's on the court, and, of course, his bloody nose.