Indiana Pacers forward Tyler Hansbrough is the prototypical love him or hate him player. He’s energetic, intense and borderline obnoxious on the court, so fans of the team he plays for love him and those he plays against hate him. In the Pacers’ first round series against the Orlando Magic alone, he showed that even though his numbers are low coming off the bench, he contributes best by getting into opponents’ heads and causing them to make mistakes.
I’m also the perfect example of a basketball fan who typically hates Hansbrough, because I find his intensity more arrogant than infectious. But during this first round series, in which his Pacers defeated the Magic 4 games to 1, I learned to respect him more than I ever have. Originally, I thought that Hansbrough was just a mouth-breathing dolt, grunting and derping his way through games and awkwardly lunging for undeserved chest bumps and high fives.
I’ve now learned, though, that there’s so much more emotional and intellectual depth to this athletic warrior and I want to pay tribute to Hansbrough in order to once and for all crush the misconception that he’s anything but a winner.
Wait, we can do better than that...
And I was even able to dig up some childhood photos that show us just how deep and emotionally advanced Hansbrough was growing up.