Respect For The Opponent

By Paul Casey Gotham

Watch enough sports and eventually one will develop a distaste for some of the guys who wear the sweater of an opponent.

Whether it’s the guy you hate see coming to the plate with the winning run on base or the player who fills up the net all too frequently when playing your team, these guys can make our sports viewing down-right maddening.

Nonetheless in some cases it’s impossible to deny the talent of these opponents.

I despise the Pinstripes – swear I throw up in my mouth every time I see them. But Derek Jeter plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played. He loves to crowd the plate and subsequently takes a few in the back side.

Look closely though – you won’t see a suit of armor on #2. When he gets plunked, he simply drops the bat and takes his base – no glare – no posturing – nothing to bring unnecessary attention to himself. He plays in the field with the same level of intensity – no fear when turning the double play.

While Jeter’s prowess comes with a few rings, Terrell Owens has proven from time to time as a thorn in the side of the New York Giants. First he played with the Eagles and now the ‘Pokes. Whenever T.O. wants to move on to another division, it’s fine with me.

Then there’s Allen Iverson with his aversion to PRAC – tice. Yeah, his persona rubs me the wrong way, but I cannot deny the guy has mad game.

How could I forget Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins? Before his recent ankle injury Crosby was making life difficult for the NHL Atlantic Division – including my New York Islanders. To make things worse Sid ‘The Kid’ ruined the Winter Classic for all Sabres fans when he beat Ryan Miller in the shoot-out.

Wayne Rooney might have left Everton for the fortune offered by Manchester United, but I love watching him knock anyone off the ball.

With all those guys in mind on this day the foe, the arch-rival, the enemy in my sites is Tyler Hansbrough. The 6’9” Tar Heel forward is true grit.

I watched Sunday as the Florida State Seminoles did everything in their power to contain Hansbrough. Seminole coach, Leonard Hamilton, used a three-player rotation inside on the Poplar Bluff, Missouri native. Uche Echefu, Julian Vaughn, and Ryan Reid combined for FIFTEEN fouls. Most if not all were dished out to Hansbrough.

It didn’t matter. Hansbrough finished with twenty-two points and twenty-one rebounds.

Tonight I will hunker down for the Duke – UNC matchup. I’ll be cheering on the Blue Devils, but Tyler Hansbrough…he gets my respect.

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