Commentary

Knee injury boots Azle's Mike Lee

Updated: March 2, 2012, 1:12 PM ET
By David Stein | ESPNDallas.com

Azle's Mike Lee will miss the Professional Bull Riders' Dickies Iron Cowboy III on Saturday at Cowboys Stadium because of a knee injury.

The only rider from Dallas-Fort Worth scheduled to compete at the event said he's been experiencing knee problems.

[+] EnlargeMike Lee
Donald Miralle/Getty ImagesAzle's Mike Lee has bounced back from injuries to enjoy PBR success, but his knee will keep him out Saturday in Arlington.

"I've lost both my ACLs, and recently I messed up my PCL too," Lee said. "If I take the time off now, I'll hopefully be able to be back by this summer."

He said he could have risked it for the Iron Cowboy III, but if he did, he could cause more damage to the knee and have to start over.

Lee has dealt with his share of injuries. In 2003, a 1,700-pound bull named Chili threw him, causing Lee's head to collide with the bull's. Lee spent four months recovering after brain surgery. He said he's also had shoulder surgery.

"Obviously I know the risks," Lee said. "It's just the freedom of it."

Lee made a full recovery and went on to win the 2004 Professional Bull Riders World Championship.

"When they open the gate and it's just you and the bull, you're putting your life on the line," Lee said. "Whenever you put your life on the line, it's an awesome feeling."

Lee isn't too thrilled about being on the sideline during the event, but he said he's still excited for what this event means for PBR.

"If they can make this event a success, they can get people informed about it," Lee said. "A lot of people would love to go to it, but the hard part is getting everyone to know about it."

Attendance at last year's event at Cowboys Stadium was 38,641.

World's best bulls await final pairing

Unlike most PBR events, which usually happen over two or three days, Saturday's Iron Cowboy III is a one-night, single-elimination tournament.

The event features 24 riders going head-to-head for up to $100,000. The top eight riders from last year's standings get first-round byes. The other 16 will have to ride five bulls to win the $50,000 prize and the opportunity to ride a sixth for an extra $50,000.

Head-to-head matchups will come down to points if both ride the bull. If neither rider does, the one who stays on longer advances.

The bulls don't get easier along the way, either. The two best riders of the night will be on top of the world's two best bulls.

Bushwacker, the reigning world champion bull, is coming off an injury to his hind legs. He weighed in at a powerful 1,737 pounds. Bushwacker has been ridden only once in his career in PBR.

Asteroid weighed in at 1,398 pounds, but his smaller stature isn't fooling anyone. Asteroid has soared into the No. 2 spot as Bushwacker's main competitor this season. The young bull is unridden so far this year.

The tournament winner gets the opportunity to ride Buckey, the bonus bull, for $50,000. He's currently the No. 9 bull in PBR.

David Stein is a reporter for ESPNDallas.com.

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