Certainly there are notable feats here in the NBA. Michael Jordan poured it on against Utah half dead from the flu, his teammates carrying him to the bench the way he carried them to titles. Willis Reed’s heroism might be the most famous, as he trotted down the tunnel and hit two quick buckets before Clyde Frazier led the Knicks to a Game 7 victory.
But in reality, Reed only made two baskets in the game and the Knicks won because of a collective effort by a team full of all-stars. In hockey, however, there is real grit. Both today and in its lore. The NHL sees Reed’s heroics and raises them the feat of Bobby Baun, who broke his ankle in the third period of the decisive game of the 1964 Finals only to return to the game and score the Stanley Cup-winning goal.
In 2010, Ian Laperriere blocked a shot and his face exploded. Never confused with an Abercrombie & Fitch model, Laperriere, one of the toughest and most lovable personalities in the game, recovered from multiple broken bones and a severe concussion to play in the Stanley Cup Finals only weeks later.
Canucks defenseman Sami Salo once took a puck in the scrotum that was rumored to have ruptured his testicle. Talk about busting your balls to win. For the rugged Finnish rearguard, it was a sorry ass excuse to miss time; he was in the lineup for Vancouver’s next game.