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Doug Collins feels for the injured Kevin Ware
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Doug Collins was sitting a few rows up from the Duke bench, so when Louisville’s Kevin Ware jumped in the air to contest a three-pointer from Tyler Thornton, he didn’t see what happened near the opposite bench.

He doesn’t want to see it, either.

Ware suffered one of the most gruesome injuries in televised sports when he landed seemingly normally on his right leg. Instead, he suffered a compound fracture of his tibia and was rushed to a nearby hospital in Indianapolis.

Collins, who traveled to Indianapolis to watch the Duke-Louisville regional championship because his son Chris was on the Duke staff, says the replay of the injury was not shown in the arena. When folks sitting around him pulled the replay up on their smart phones, Collins wasn’t interested in taking a look.

He could tell by the way the players on both teams reacted that it was a serious injury.

“Thank God I didn’t see it. I was sitting in a situation where I was right about eye level with the court, so I saw Tyler Thornton hit the three and then all of a sudden the play was stopped and I didn’t know what happened,” Collins said. “The looks on the players’ faces when he went down … I saw the look on Tyler Thornton’s face -- it was horrific.

“There you were in the arena with all that kind of emotion and then all of a sudden it was just funeral. It was so quiet in there. Obviously, they had to make sure he got the proper medical care because with an open wound like that he’s a risk for infection and all that goes with that.

“Coach K and [Louisville head coach] Rick Pitino got together after that moment to see how they wanted to proceed. Duke was going to do whatever Louisville needed.”

Ware’s injury hit a little close to home for Collins, too. For one, Collins’ playing career was cut short by knee and foot injuries and the Sixers coach is still a little sensitive to player injuries. Also, Collins’ 10-year old grandson Ryan has suffered a couple of broken leg injuries and was quite upset by Ware’s broken leg.

Collins urged his grandson not to watch the video on YouTube.

“Ryan has had two broken legs in the past three years. He snapped a femur and had to have major surgery to go in and put the plates and the screws in and then recently he broke his tibia and spent eight weeks in a cast with that,” Collins said. “He did not want to see it or talk about it. You never know how young guys are going to process things and he’s just 10 and it upset him a lot.”

The short trip to Indianapolis also marked the last game for Chris Collins as an assistant for Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. This week the younger Collins will be introduced as the new head basketball coach for Northwestern, so Doug Collins wanted to be there as his son closed one chapter of his life before opening a new one.

“I wanted to be there. It was important to me,” Collins said. “I was at his first game when he played [for Duke] and I went there with two things in mind. One was if they won to give him a hug and send him to another Final Four, but if not I wanted to be there for his last game at Duke to watch him walk off the court. That was important to me. We had a little moment and it’s interesting how life works -- here’s a 38-year old young man walking into a new life and the excitement that goes with that and I’m sure there was a million things going through his mind, too.

“We’re all very excited for his next journey and he’s going home. He’s going back to Chicago where he spent a lot of his youth and he’s excited to build something at Northwestern.”

1983 NBA champions to reunite
The Sixers are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the 1982-83 NBA champions by honoring the team at the April 14 home finale against the Cavaliers. Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Clemon Johnson, Clint Richardson, Franklin Edwards, Reggie Johnson and Earl Cureton are the players expected to attend. The team’s general manager, Pat Williams, is also expected to be on hand.