For decades, sports fans around the world turn to highlights in the absence of live sports. Whether it was deep in the late night after a full slate of NBA, NCAAM and NHL or early in the morning, hours before kick off, sports fans would watch on ESPN and be amazed at the highlights that transpired from the previous night, weeks or years.
In odd times, like today’s landscape (March 2020), all we have are these highlights. These highlights, brought to us by these generational type athletes who put their body on the line day in and day out for the betterment of their team and own personal legacy, create what we know as big moments in sports history. There are countless moments in time that breed the stories and morph these athletes into legends, other worldly beings and folk tales for older generations to pass down to their children.
Let’s add another layer to that. Sprinkled throughout the history of sports there are a few bright moments in that timeline that really stand toe to toe with the test of time and exemplify the greatness and perseverance of these world-class athletes. I’m talking about playing through an injury.
Now, we all have our favorite sports teams and biased opinions on players around each league, but when a player excels through pain in their respective sport, there is just no room for criticism and credit shall be given where credit is due. Some the more recent “playing through an injury” moments in sports history include: Philip Rivers in the 2007 AFC Championship, where Rivers played with a torn ACL in a 21-12 loss to the New England Patriots, the late great Kobe Bryant, who went on to make two free throws after tearing his achilles in 2013 and Curt Schilling, in game 6 of the 2004 ALCS where he famously led the Red Sox to a 2004 World Series with a bloody sock and bum ankle.
While those moments certainly stack up as all-time moments in the sports world, there is one moment that towers over all “playing through injury” moments: The Flu Game.
This game needs no introduction and leave it to Michael Jordan to upstage every athlete before and after him by using sheer determination and competitive drive to close out an important game 5 in the 1997 NBA Championship.
Jordan dropped 38 points after getting food poisoning the night before game 5 and was in a world of pain with long list of symptoms including: fatigue, heavy sweating, chills, nausea and diarrhea. Jordan famously went on to recover and “The Flu Game” went down as one of the most historic games in NBA Finals history.
Let me bring it back to present-time. March 2020. There are no sports currently going on, so that makes it impossible for another young athlete to cement their moment in history at this time and that might lead you to ask, “Where is this article going? How is Max going to compare himself to the greatest basketball player of all time?”
On March 28th, 2020, through my own dedication and will, I went through my own personal “Flu Game” and I believe I cemented my moment in the sports and home improvement history.
I had to paint my room with a broken hand.
The morning of March 28th, 2020 was one that began just like any of the rest. I woke up on Saturday morning around 7:30AM pacific time. As I woke up and went through my morning routine to get me ready for the tough day ahead, I realized that my left hand was the size of a hot air ballon and my range of motion was severely limited. I was hurt, but I had been putting this home improvement project to the side for a while now and was heavily pressured by the front office to get the task done, so the show must go on.
I crack my knuckles on a daily basis and figured it was just soreness but I underestimated the injury to my left hand, passed on medical advice and decided to play hurt.
After about 45 minutes of taping and setting up, I realized that my left hand was broken, useless and I had to finish this fight one handed.
We begin to paint and about 30% of the way through I had to see the team doctor (Grandma). The team doc said that if I was in that much pain I should go get an X-ray and probably give up on painting my room. She was right about one thing, but I wasn’t going to quit on my task. So, I went to the DR…
My X-Ray shocked the sports community and even prompted the input of twitter doctors around the world.
My hand wasn’t broken like my initial thought, but I was suffering from a dislocated finger. I got my finger popped back into place and got a hand shot for the pain, and I rushed back to work to get the job done. I was determined to fulfill the promise I made to the front office. Nothing was going to stop me.
So I went back to the lab.
You can see here how Jordan’s injuries and my injuries stack up toe to toe, moments before we had to go out and accomplish such a heavy tasks that would eventually go on to live in sports & home improvement history.
After leaving the training room, I went on to paint my room in about 4 hours (not including the training room visit.) But I would be a liar if I said that I didn’t get discouraged along the way. The pain was sharp and frequent and about half way through I needed some motivation to get me going.
After the morale boost, that was all she wrote, everyone knows how the story ends after that point. These 4 walls were no match for my sheer determination and drive to finish. I was in the zone and there was no stopping me. The walls were defeated. The job was done.
One cool part of this whole story is the remains of my tremendous accomplishment. Many of these great moments leave behind pieces of memorabilia that are forever tied to each historic moment. Schilling’s bloody sock rests in the MLB Hall of Fame, while Michael Jordan’s game worn shoes, from the “Flu Game”, sold in an auction for over $100K. The only souvenir I was able to conjure up after my epic feat was the bracelet from the hospital (that I will not sell.)
So, in the midst of a global pandemic with no live televised sports on TV, I went on to complete the painting of my room and ultimately went on to solidify my self among the great athletes who have persevered through pain. Here’s how I rank the performances:
Jordan, Flu Game.
Schilling, Bloody Sock.
Farias, Behr Down.
See y’all in the Home Depot Hall of Fame.
***** Just an obvious disclaimer here: Jordan didn’t do all the work by him self and neither did I. I had a great supporting cast and couldn’t have done this alone, but that still doesn’t take away from my “Behr Down Moment.”