Playing Through Injury In The NHL, NBA: An Example Of Contrast

I'm not saying that NHL players are tougher than NBA players, but... alright, fine. That's what I'm saying. 

Let's briefly compare and contrast two different ailments: one to Joe Thornton of the San Jose Sharks prior to Game 6 against Vancouver and one to LeBron James of the Miami Heat earlier this week, prior to Game 2 against Chicago.

Thornton suffered a shoulder injury in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, but when asked about it by reporters on the off-day before Game 5, he said that he's "100 percent" and he brushed off the injury as nothing. The tone didn't really change after the Sharks were eliminated in Game 5, either. 

"I just separated my shoulder last game, that's it," Thornton said. "It was sore, but no excuses."    

Despite that, he was second on his team in ice time in the final game and he won 56 percent of his face-offs. You use your shoulder a lot when taking face-offs, for the record. He also led all players with seven shots on goal.

And then, we turn to James, who seemed to use his ailment -- a cold -- as an excuse for a poor Game 1 performance. Via our own Mike Prada:

LeBron James had a very bad game in the Miami Heat's Game 1 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Sunday night, shooting just 5 of 15 for 15 points. That game was three days ago. Now, James has made clear to reporters that he was battling a cold then and is still struggling with it prior to Wednesday's Game 2.

It doesn't bug me that James had a rough night with a cold. We all suck at what we do when we're sick, after all. It's the fact that he felt the need to talk about it that bothers me. He had to "make it clear," as Prada said.

Why couldn't he pull a Thornton and just brush aside the question? Act like it's no big deal? You know, no excuses. That would be commendable. 

Blanket statements are never good, nor are they accurate, so that line about all NHL players being tougher than all NBA players is obviously an exaggeration. These are two star players in their respective leagues, though, and I think the differences here speak volumes when it comes to how they're viewed.

This is certainly the lens in which a lot of hockey fans view the NBA, that's for sure. 

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