This is the tale of the tooth.
Or better yet, the whole truth about the tooth.
When UConn’s Amida Brimah caught Gary Clark with an elbow last Saturday in the AAC Tournament semifinals, he sent the Bearcats forward to the bench two minutes into the game with a tooth in his hand.
“As soon as it happened I thought, ‘Crap. I should have been wearing my mouthpiece,’” said Clark.
“I didn’t know what happened,” said assistant coach Darren Savino. “He comes over to the bench and he’s got a grimace on his face and then he handed me a tooth.”
“He had his hand out thinking it was a mouthpiece I guess,” said Clark. “I’m sure he was shocked when he realized it was my tooth. He turned and yelled, ‘It’s a tooth’ and (trainer) Robb (Williams) ran over and got me out.”
“I’m like, ‘What am I going to do with this guy’s tooth?’” said Savino. “So I go down to Robb and say, ‘Gary just gave me his tooth.’ He puts on his rubber gloves and I’m like, ‘Wait a minute – why are you putting on gloves? Give me something for my hands.’ So he comes and gives me sanitizer and the rest is history.”
The story, of course, didn’t end there. Clark went on to have one of the best games of his UC career finishing with 25 points and 9 rebounds.
“It tells you what kind of warrior Gary Clark is,” said Savino. “He spits his tooth out, stays on the court, and doesn’t bat an eyelash. He gets 25 and 9 with guys draped all over him fouling him on every possession.”
Did the elbow to the face motivate Gary?
“Just a little bit,” said Clark. “It just showed the physicality of the game and how teams are trying to play against us. I took one to the face last week and had a fat lip. It just comes with the game.”
“It says that I need to elbow him myself or upset him more often,” said Mick Cronin with a laugh. “He was upset. He went to the trainer and said, ‘Give me my mouthpiece.’ Nobody wants to listen to me but he got intentionally elbowed the week before and he had had enough.
“I’ve been telling him that you’ve got to play angry. In life you’ve got to be a great person, but when you get between those lines you’ve got to play angry. Hopefully he realized what he’s capable of. That’s the way I look at it.”
But there’s one more thing you should know.
Amida Brimah didn’t break Gary’s tooth. It had already been broken by Clark’s roommate Cane Broome in a preseason practice.
“We were playing two-on-two at practice,” said Broome. “I was guarding Kevin Johnson and he drove baseline and went up for a shot and I tried to block it. Gary was on my team and he tried to block it too. I fell backwards and my elbow hit him in the mouth. He said, ‘My tooth, my tooth.’ It was out.”
“He got like four stiches in his elbow,” said Clark. “He was the originator of it. I blame Cane.”
“It wasn’t funny, but after the fact we kind of laughed that Cane knocked somebody’s tooth out and he weighs 150 pounds,” said Savino.
So the tooth that was knocked out in Hartford was actually a replacement.
“He came to the bench and said, ‘Do I look ugly?’ Then he smiled,” said Broome.
“I got it fixed on Monday morning,” said Clark. “It was just a tad bit painful but I’m glad I’ve got my smile back.”
Unfortunately, Gary didn’t get the tooth back.
“My little brother said I should have saved it for the tooth fairy,” he said.
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