By Jim Owczarski Sports Editor Published Apr 15, 2013 at 8:31 PM

Marquis Daniels slid his headphones up off his ears and rested them onto his temples.

He leaned back in his chair, and remembered that he was walking to class on the campus of Auburn University when word spread that two planes had been flown into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

Drew Gooden was halfway across the country at Kansas University, about two weeks shy of his 20th birthday. John Henson was just 10 years old. Larry Sanders was 12. Ish Smith was 13.

So much has changed since that date, but those are nerve endings that will remain forever raw.

You could see it on the face of former Milwaukee Bucks coach George Karl, in town Monday night as the head man of the visiting Denver Nuggets for the Bucks regular season finale. You could hear it in his deep breath before speaking about playing a basketball game in the wake of several explosions near the finish line at the Boston marathon that, at press time, had killed two and wounded more than 100 others.

"I don’t know," Karl said, his eyes looking up over the lights of a camera and the digital voice recorders circled around him. "I think when things like that happen we all get a little scared. Security is a big part of life and it’s like what happened in Denver with the movie theater (in 2012) and the danger. Now every time I walk into a movie theater there’s a flashback or subconscious feeling that nothing is safe anymore.

"The marathon run for many, many people is the dream of their lives to run and then to have tragedy and disaster hits you. I think we think the worst. We think when things like that happen what’s going to be next? Is it more than just one? It’s a heavy day for our country. Our country is learning to deal with new things – and a lot of countries around the world have had it more often than we have had – but I hope never have a callous to it. To me it’s the eeriness of being insecure. Now life is not as maybe confidently secure as it has been in the past."

As players, Daniels and Gooden acknowledged it was an odd time to prepare for a game, where you’re focusing on your routine, trying to get your physical and mental abilities right all the while balancing the natural human thoughts and concerns associated with such acts.

"I had a couple worries coming today to the gym," Gooden said. "It’s always in the back of your mind, the security of the arena and could this happen at an NBA event, let alone any sports event in America. It definitely runs through your mind. Every once in a while during the anthem, is something gonna happen? Where’s the nearest exit? You’re pre-planning a way to get out of there sort of thing. It’s passed my mind plenty of times since I’ve been playing."

Unlike the attacks on Sept. 11, sporting events across the country were not cancelled as a result of the bombings in Boston. Games involving the Boston Celtics and the Boston Bruins, however, were cancelled.

"We can’t live in a glass box," Gooden said. "I don’t know what’s up with people these days. I think just trying to help our youth as much as possible so these things won’t happen in the future is probably our best bet."

For the fans and participants at the BMO Harris Bradley Center Monday night, the events on the East Coast only drove home the point of how fleeting, and special, life is.

After talking basketball for a few minutes, including updates on the physical well-being of some of his players, Bucks coach Jim Boylan echoed such sentiments.

"It’s just heart breaking first of all and it really lets you know that life is very, very delicate so you should enjoy it every chance you get."

Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.

A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.

To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.

Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining

In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.

Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.