NHL and NBA seasons are equal-opportunity body bashers. Pretty much everything hurts for pretty much everybody. But some guys stare down pain better than others. We asked dozens of players, suits, scouts and trainers to salute the tough guys—and call out the softies.
Jason Smith (Flyers)
Scott Hartnell (Flyers)
Stephane Robidas (Stars)
Daniel Alfredsson (Senators)
Rod Brind'Amour (Hurricanes)
Mats Sundin (Leafs)
Mike Modano (Stars)
Danny Briere (Flyers)
Jonathan Toews (Blackhawks)
Peter Forsberg (Avs)
Allen Iverson (Nuggets)
Deron Williams (Jazz)
Kobe Bryant (Lakers)
Kevin Garnett (Celtics)
Shaquille O'Neal (Suns)
Gilbert Arenas (Wizards)
Grant Hill (Suns)
Dirk Nowitzki (Mavericks)
Andres Nocioni (Bulls)
Steve Nash (Suns)
Viktor Kozlov (Capitals)
Dominik Hasek (Red Wings)
Marc Savard (Bruins)
Alexander Semin (Capitals)
Peter Forsberg (Avs)
Tracy McGrady (Rockets)
Vince Carter (Nets)
Pau Gasol (Lakers)
Sam Cassell (Celtics)
Kwame Brown (Grizzlies)
From players to coaches and scouts to trainers, we canvassed the NBA and NHL to discover who they thought were Warriors and Wimps when the pressure's on and pain comes a'calling. (The promise of anonymity helped loosen some tongues.)
Manu Ginobili: "He's one of the toughest guys in the league. He's always got some knick-knack injury."
"Look at his x-rays. He's one of the toughest, smallest guys to ever play in this league."
"He's about a buck forty, plays 42 minutes every game, get's made whenever he comes out, and it's his 12th year in the league? Come on, G."
Deron Williams: "He's got a broken booty."
Shaq: "He takes a beating night in and night out. Guys put a body on him. People don't realize how unathletic guys look in the morning getting out of bed."
Johnny Kerr: "He never missed any games. He played with a terribly bruised calf. His one leg was twice as big as the other. But a lot of guys played with aches and pains. That was their job. They weren't getting set for life."
Jerome Jones: "I never see him on the court. He's always hurt. Never seen him trying to fight through any pain."
Carmelo Anthony: "I just turned the game on today. He just kinda quit on his team today."
General Wimp quotes:
"I know a bunch of them. You're not going to get me on that one."
"If you could be out there, you'd rather be out there. You'd have to be in surgery not to. But I know a guy that's been out for shin splints. I'm like, shin splints? Can't you put a hot pad on that and keep playing? Shin splints?! If it's not broken or a tendon that's snapped, your teammates expect you to play."
"I just don't like when guys lay on the floor after they're supposedly hurt."
"I don't even like HEARING about people getting hurt."
"God, there's so many of them. There's pretty much one or two on every team."
"You can't tell what somebody feels. It's totally unfair."
Chris Clark: "He took an Alex Ovechkin shot to the face/head while he was in front of the net trying to screen the opposing goalie. He missed a little time from the injury, but sure enough, a few games later he was back in front of the net dodging Ovie's rockets. I don't think Clarkie feels pain.
Valeri Zelepukin: "He played with a grade-two MCL and he came in and asked for a brace and out he went to play. He was one of the toughest guys I ever met."
Brendan Shanahan: "I saw him get his jaw broken by a deflected shot and he didn't even go down. He dropped his stick, covered his face and skated off, didn't even wait for whistle."
Scott Hartnell: "Philly plays with so much edge that there's more slashes, big hits, late hits and cheap shots. Nobody takes more than Hartnell and he shows up every game and every shift. You know that he's playing hurt a lot of the time and he's fearless. He sets the tone for a lot of the Flyers other young players. And Paul Holmgren (the general manager) was that type of player—he appreciates what Hartnell does and what he has to play through."
Jason Smith: "You know the type of game he plays, he's going to be playing hurt a lot. You can tell the respect that he gets from the teams that he played with in Edmonton that his teammates know he's committed."
"What he did in the playoffs this year—I mean, his face looked like something out of a horror movie—was one of the bravest things ever. Everybody knows that now, but that's the type of player he's always been."
David Legwand: "He played through a fractured knee and a ligament tear in the playoffs [this season]. Went in cold—hadn't played in weeks."
"Took a skate blade in the face—more than forty stitches—like he got cut a new mouth, and played the next night even though he couldn't speak or eat."
Daniel Alfredsson: "He understood early on that his 75 percent was better than the other guys' 100 percent, and played through injuries that would have sat down a lot of teammates."
Peter Forsberg: "He's paying the price now for playing hurt so many times in the past. He dressed in the playoffs when he should have been shut down because of concussion problems, but probably fought management on it."
Mats Sundin: "He has to have taken a lot of abuse to play his game. How many cross-checks has he taken to the kidneys? With him and with a lot of guys in their late 30s, it's not a matter of playing with an injury but playing with a back that makes it tough to get out of bed every morning, a wrist or a knee that just isn't right and never gets better."
Mike Modano: "He sucked it up and played with a broken wrist in the finals in '99 and played really well."
Chris Phillips: "He has respect in the Ottawa room because of he's always willing and ready no matter how broken up he is."
Vincent Lecavalier: "He doesn't have to announce it. He toughs it out."
Anton Volchenkov: "Gives up his body so much [blocking shots and hitting] he'd never play if he waited to heal … what he went through to play in this year's playoffs, not five percent of the league players, even tough ones, would have dressed and played")
Kris Draper: "You know how he plays he's only going to start the season at 100 percent."
Euros with old-school values: "A lot of people in the league think that Euros won't play hurt, even a little, but it's something that they have to accept to stick around … if they don't or if they don't like it, they go home."
Viktor Kozlov: "Had to be 100 percent to play, not willing to play even at 90 percent. It's one of the reasons he's frustrated teams in his career and worn out his welcome."
Dominik Hasek: "Other players will step up and play hurt when the team is in trouble and the season on the line. There's no doubt he pulled the chute in Buffalo and Ottawa when he could have, and should have, played hurt."
Alexander Semin: "When he first came over. there were some questions about what he was willing to play through. Not driven or committed. Looking for the first chance to bail out. This spring, though, and in the playoffs, he stepped up. Probably because of the willingness and readiness of Ovechkin."
Carlo Coliacavo: "Legitimately injured early on in his career but this past season you could see him winceing on every hit, calling the trainer over, but getting back in the game 10 minutes later like nothing happened. His teammates had to wonder if some of it was in his head."