Last year it was convenient, if not original, to say out loud or in whispers that the Warriors 2015 title, though earned, was marinated in a heap of luck. The Warriors had a season unique to every other NBA team. None of their key players had injuries. They played together all season long as a unit which enabled their chemistry to take off. Adversity never knocked on the Warriors door and blew the whole damned house down. They had it easy. Their first major adjustment on the season came in game 4 of the NBA Finals when Steve Kerr inserted Andre Iguodala into the starting lineup. Other than that, the Dubs breezed through the season and post-season while the rest of the NBA limped and hobbled and grimaced their way to the losers finish line.
Lightening doesn’t strike twice. This year, the Warriors had injuries to Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli and Andrew Bogut and Andre Igoudala. The Warriors were still able to snag the best regular season record in NBA history because the one who got them the record was able to get through the season with a minimal amount of bumps and bruises.
In Oakland, you don’t talk about Steph’s ankles. The mere mention of his tortured history is like asking for a monsoon to swallow the bay. Because Oakland lived through Steph injury hell, no one can put it out of their mind that we have been here before. We have been here before. Damn. We have been here before.
It may not be serious now. It may not be anything to worry about. Steph may recover quickly. He may be back on the court as early as tomorrow night. He may make 9 threes. He may dribble in the lane, change directions, hand off to Bogut and run to the three point line and finish a Steph special. He may dish to Draymond who drives and dishes to Klay, who finds an open Barnes. He may sink a floater to break the game open, that nasty mouthpiece hanging off his lips. Or….
He may injure his ankles again.
In his worry years, Steph Curry had freak injuries of no contact, no one within five feet of him and the ankles would go, like someone had just pushed a pin in a voodoo doll to make him crumble. This didn’t just happen once. It happened over and over again.
Who is to say that Curry won’t be Jalen Rosed. In the NBA Finals of 2000, Jalen Rose deliberately kicked his leg out to twist Kobe’s ankle just because he wanted to win a ring that badly and taking Kobe out would do the trick. I’m not saying the Rockets with their soft players have anyone crazy enough to do something like that…wait, I take that back. That is exactly something Patrick Beverly would do. If not Beverly, then in round two against the Clippers, a series marked by hate. All is fair in love and war so why wouldn’t someone crowd Steph and trap him with footwork making his ability to be elusive with a bum ankle a complication?
Steph’s ankle drama is the Warriors ankle drama, is Oakland’s ankle drama. A lot of Bay area folk are asking, what if getting the best record led to this? What if getting the best record was some form of divine intervention because what was coming in the second season was going to be tragic so you better have your celebration now. What if everything about this season is as good as it’s going to get?
We saw what happens to a team when injuries ruin their postseason. Last year, the Cavaliers lost Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, and LeBron James tried but failed to win it by himself. This year, injuries to Marc Gasol and Mike Conley have left the Memphis Grizzlies a shell of themselves and easy pickings for the Spurs to vulture in and eat the remains.
There isn’t a NBA trophy for good but not great. Or injured, wait until next year. Or sorry this keeps happening. The Warriors are penciled in as back-to-back champions. Pencil, is the key. Not ink. Because paper Curry ankles is their kryptonite.
photo via llananba