Rushing the court in college basketball has come under fire in recent years for the risk of injury it poses to students and athletes.
Well, one NC State student fan in a wheelchair, Will Privette, took that risk to the extreme by being one of the first fans to rush the court (or “roll the court” in this case) after the Wolfpack’s 84-76 win over No. 1 Duke on Saturday. Even more disturbing is the fact that the fan was knocked over by the horde of students on the floor right after reaching halfcourt.
“We got right in the center, and as you can see in the video, I got hit from one side,” Privette told USA Today’s Kelly Whiteside while mentioning that he also rushed the court after NC State’s 2010 home win over Duke. “It was like a wave. It toppled me over. I fell out of my wheelchair. I was on the ground, and I had my phone in my hand – I was trying to film the event – and the phone flew out of my hands and my glasses flew off my face. I was on the ground. I was like, ‘OK, what am I going to do now?’ ”
ESPN announcer Dick Vitale was startled by the incident, saying: “Watch the young guy in the wheelchair. There’s a wheelchair out there! Unbelievable! Did you see that? Oh, my heart goes out. I hope he’s OK…”
Thankfully, Privette had a guardian angle in the form of NC State star C.J. Leslie.
“He pushed everyone back and told everyone, ‘Get back, get back,’ ” Privette told Whiteside. “Once everyone moved and realized what was going on, he picked me up and I’ve described it as like how you’d hold a baby. Once I realized I wasn’t in trouble any more, I started to scream, like “Wooooo! Let’s go!” C.J. held me for a little bit because we lost my wheelchair in the sea of people. He held me for a couple of minutes. I was screaming and yelling.
“I patted him on the head and said, ‘Thank you.’ Then he put me in my chair, and the PNC Arena staff escorted me off the court to safety. After the game, I waited around for C.J. to say, ‘Thank you, thank you for helping — saving my life, really.’ It was the dumbest thing I’ve done in college but it was awesome.”
We love that Privette was trying to enjoy the moment just like the rest of the student body, but maybe next time he should be wheeled out at the end of the court storming instead of the beginning.