Have you ever had shin splints? I have. They're the worst. They totally ache when you try to play basketball, and they cause you to quit earlier than you would have liked, and they screw with your footwork (and thus screw with your jump shot, thus making people think you're worse than you are), and you have to ice your shins and stretch your legs all the time, and none of that stuff is even remotely fun.
Dear shin splints: I hate you. Go away forever. Your friend, Eamonn.
So here I am, feeling all sorry for myself because my shins ache, when I come across the information that yes, in fact, Seton Hall guard Jeremy Hazell did play a game of organized basketball last night. Hazell scored 23 in the Pirates' 78-67 victory against DePaul Wednesday night. Fifteen of those points came in the second half, and two of them came on a alley-oop dunk that gave Seton Hall a 17-point lead with 2:17 left in the second half.
Why is this notable? Because on Christmas Day -- just about three weeks ago, now -- a bullet entered Hazell's midsection as he fled from four armed robbers in Harlem. The robbery attempt nearly cost him his life; Hazell was forced to flag down an NYPD ambulance from a street corner to make it to the hospital in time to get the medical attention he obviously required.
Oh, and there was the matter of the wrist injury that was keeping Hazell out of the Pirates' lineup in the first place. Hazell's healed as speedily as possible from that injury, which was supposed to keep him out from two to six weeks. CBS blogger Eric Angevine summed the whole thing up pretty perfectly this afternoon:
Just to recap, Hazell came back from his wrist injury in the absolute minimum time his doctor would allow. He was also shot -- SHOT -- by a gunman just eighteen days ago, and he came back playing out-of-his-mind, not tentative or ginger on the ol' wings at all. As the Associated Press reported, "Hazell, a first-team preseason All-Big East selection, had an alley-oop dunk to make it 77-60 with 2:17 left. He scored 15 points in the second half. Hazell said he never doubted that he would return to the court even after being shot." [...] It also shows loyalty to his teammates, who will have absolutely no excuses for slacking off in practice any more this season. Turf toe? Man up. Broken ribs? Get in the gym, jackwagon. Hazell here was SHOT a couple of weeks ago, and do you hear him whining? No, you don't.
It really is remarkable. Not only did Hazell do something so many athletes struggle with -- overlooking the stiffness and pain of a still-healing broken bone in favor of a return to the court -- but he did so just three weeks after he got shot. With a bullet. From a gun. And when he did return, it was like he was never gone in the first place. This might just be the story of the 2010-11 college hoops season. Incredible.
I'll never apologize to my shin splints, and I will always hate them, but you know what? Maybe they're not so bad after all.