Sunday, April 4, 2010

"The Hug": Cool? Or Creepy?

In case you missed it Saturday night, The Final 4 produced one of the most unforgettable and uncomfortable moments in sports I’ve ever seen. It happened late in the Duke/West Virginia game, with Duke leading by double digits and West Virginia trying to mount a comeback. Mountaineers star Da’Sean Butler drove to the basket and had his knee buckle (turns out it was an ACL tear) on a questionable no-foul call against Duke. The minutes that followed were some of the most agonizing since Lawrence Taylor snapped Joe Theismann’s leg in two twenty-five years ago on Monday Night Football.

It’s never pleasant to watch someone in pain, and you knew the way Butler was acting, he was enduring a lot of it. Knowing he was a senior and that we were witnessing his final collegiate moments made it all the worse. And then, Coach Bob Huggins, “Huggy Bear” as he’s nicknamed, came to his side in a scene that will never be forgotten. It was a scene that will become as big a part of Huggins’ legacy as his 600-plus career coaching victories. It was a scene that has been dubbed by most people as “touching.” I can certainly understand that view, but watching it live, I actually felt it was a little creepy. Huggins was a little too close for comfort, a little too motherly—like a mom caressing a child. This is a 22-year old man who is set to make millions of dollars playing in the NBA next year. I just wanted to shout through the TV screen to leave the man alone and let the team doctors get him off the court. At one point, I thought Huggins was actually going to kiss Butler on the lips! One has to wonder if Butler wanted him that close or if he wanted to just be left alone and escorted off the court as quickly as possible.

One can’t deny that it was a touching gesture from coach to player—as long as it was genuine and not for show. Clark Kellogg, CBS Analyst, described it as a “powerful” scene. Re-watching the clip, I can certainly see how some people thought it was a really cool thing Huggins did. So…cool? Or creepy? I’ll let you be the judge.


  1. It was a little to close for comfort but I also think the coach mught have been trying to shield him a bit. He was crying so loudly, and the coach knowing he is on national tv, may have been simply trying to get him to calm down a bit by comforting him in his own way.

  2. I'm definately going with creepy! That was absolutely rediculous as far as I'm concerned. This is one of the things that I hate most about college basketball these days...players getting knicked, sometimes barely even touched, and then rolling around on the ground for 10 minutes like they've been shot or something, only to come back into the game 5 minutes later perfectly fine. Now I will accept the fact that Butler actually was injured, but come on, act like a man! I remember when I played sports we made a point of not letting on that you were injured if you got hurt. Heck, one day in football practice I broke my arm and still played 3 more snaps before coach took me out and told me I had a broken bone (which I already knew as the bone was visibly out of place). Maybe one of the reasons players act like such babies these days is because the coaches baby them so much...right Huggie? Gimme a break.