DEMAREE:Crawford-Gillispie's toughest warrior

No pain, no gain! Sports' age-old cliché must sound like a riddle or at best a foolish utterance. This is most heard in relation to the physical conditioning of athletes in order to prepare one for their best game performance. In Crawford's case, I'm sure he just wishes the pain would go away.

Crawford seemingly has played with some sort of pain every since he's worn a Wildcat uniform. Earlier this year, Crawford has had his left knee scoped for cartilage damage on September 13, 2007. And for most of the season he has played with plantar fascitis (slang: policeman's heel). For the amount of pain he's endures to play for the Cats, he deserves the Purple Heart award.

Not to minimize the other injuries the rest of his teammates have incurred, but this writer is a living witness through personal experience, Crawford's pain is the toughest to endure while still trying to play basketball. Heck, it's even tough getting out of bed in the mornings. That first contact with the floor the foot makes is like many needles puncturing the heel of the foot at the same time or worse than a toothache.

What drives Crawford to fight through the pain beside competitiveness? Perhaps it's his fellow senior, Ramel Bradley. "Ramel is one of the toughest guys I've been around," Crawford said. "He doesn't let you know when he's tired or when he's hurt."

On a couple of occasions, due to my personal identity to the injury, off the record, I asked him how they are dealing with it. Tough hobbling at the time, he shrugged it off and said, "Oh, I just ice it a lot and get ready for the next game."

At the 12:55 mark of the second half in the Tennessee game, Crawford dinged the foot on a jump shot when he came down awkwardly. He played on briefly before coming out of the game. He later re-entered the game and after fouling Tennessee's J. P. Prince he asked to come out of the game even though he had just made two three-pointers to help rally the Cats. "Joe fought through the pain but said he couldn't go at the end," Gillispie lamented. "That's the sign of a leader that this is a team game."

The football team's starting linebacker Johnny Williams suffering with the same ailment, missed two games in the middle of the 2007 season and later came back to play the rest of the season. But he is playing on grass so how tough is it for Crawford, who's playing on the hardwood?

So what is the treatment for this injury? Because of the possible weakening of the ligament, unfortunately the treatment is not as aggressive for athletes anymore. In my case and though I was jogging 4-days a week, I received cortisone injections at six-month intervals until it went away.

A physician's assistant friend described treatment that's everything from a heel-cup-shoe-insert, stretching exercises, in the case of flat feet orthotics-inserts specially built for the shoe, and most recently a straightening boot worn at night when asleep. Except for the foot, we experienced them all.

Perhaps Crawford will experience a new birth when the day comes he will no longer be playing in pain. The bonding thing about Billy Gillispie's team is the sharing of each other's pain and the healthy players realizing they can't quit when it gets tough.

AllWildcats Top Stories