Here is a link to my Tuesday column about Stephen Curry’s fall and Game 4 between the Warriors and Rockets. The full text runs below:
Stephen Curry flipped head over heels in the second quarter, and then he flew.
As he flew, he told himself the flight was taking a long time. He wasn’t used to flying solo for extended periods and he worried he would land hard and hurt himself. Hours later, he remembered worrying about the length of flight.
His airborne experience ended abruptly when he landed hard on the hardwood, landed on the back of his head. He rolled over and rubbed his head and stayed there with a vacant look on his face. The team doctors ordered him not to get up. “Take your time,” they said.
It looked for a moment more than the game was lost for the Warriors — the Rockets won 128-115. Maybe this playoff series would fall away from them, the series the Warriors now lead 3-1. And the season also would go flipping away. When a team, even a good team like the Warriors, loses its superstar and its franchise player, it no longer is the same team.
And there was something else. People like Curry. They take it personally if he gets hurt. When he went down, it’s like something bad happened to their kid, their cousin, their best neighbor.
Curry had taken flight after he tried to block a layup by Trevor Ariza.
Curry jumped high in the air and Ariza ran under him and Curry came down on Ariza and lost his balance and flipped. There was nothing dirty in what Ariza did. Just one of those things. But he did it to Curry — or Curry did it to himself out of sheer exuberance .
The Warriors players gathered around Curry under the basket, Curry a fallen comrade. The game stopped a long time. Time seemed to stop. Curry sat with his arms around his knees. He didn’t get up for the longest while. When he finally rose, the Houston crowd cheered him. You should know they cheered him. Basketball is, after all, a game.
Curry walked toward the locker room, his right arm in an odd position. As he made his way down the hallway, he kept rubbing his head. He worried how he would feel in the next 15 or 20 minutes. He wondered if things would turn bad.
He was “in shock from the feeling of falling,” he said later. The doctors followed him. They made his go through the concussion protocol. According to general manager Bob Myers, Curry kept saying he wanted to play. Myers used the word “repeatedly” to describe Curry’s request to play. The doctors kept on with the protocol while Curry’s father Del watched them and talked to his son.
Del had rushed to the locker room. Obviously, his son wasn’t texting and the family wanted to make sure he was all right. “I can imagine what it seemed like from the stands watching the play happen,” Stephen Curry said later.
“If there’s even a concern, you don’t play him,” Myers said. “We’d never overrule our doctors.
Warriors owner Joe Lacob and Myers huddled in the hallway outside the locker room as the second quarter played out. They waited for word on Curry. They looked worried. Myers’ face was gray. Lacob didn’t know what would happen. It felt like there was an illness in the family, and family members had gathered outside the house in the driveway and on the porch.
While the doctors tested him, Curry watched the game on TV, “out of the corner of my eye.” He saw the Warriors were making a comeback and hoped they could “make it a somewhat decent game going into halftime.” He still didn’t know if he would play.
At halftime, the Warriors players went to Curry and asked how he felt. He still was getting tested and they got ready to play. The Warriors began the second half without Curry. “By the time he came back, it was mid-third quarter,” Steve Kerr said. “I was coaching the game and we were playing. It was strictly, ‘Are the doctors going to let him play, is he OK to play?’ He got the OK, so we put him in.”
Curry finally passed the medical tests. Head contusion and extreme fright. Nothing long lasting or career ending or series ending. He re-entered the game midway through the third quarter. Myers carefully studied him to see if he was healthy. To see if he could be a basketball player.
Curry got a 3-pointer blocked. Didn’t look good. “The hard part is gauging someone who didn’t play for an hour,” Myers said. “He didn’t warm up.” Curry eventually warmed up, seemed healthy.
“I was out for probably an hour from the time I hit the ground,” Curry said. “You don’t go through your regular routine. It’s a different situation. It took me a couple of minutes just to get back in the rhythm of the game.”
In his postgame media session, Curry seemed rational and relieved. He said nothing had gotten worse and he expects to play Wednesday in Game 5. That brings us belatedly to Monday’s game which, out of necessity, has taken second place to the Stephen Curry Injury Story.
“They made everything,” Kerr said of the Rockets. “They won the game in the first quarter. They were ready to play, probably more ready than we were. We were on our heels. They were making shots from all over. They were obviously coming out with some fire. Tough to come back from 23 down after one quarter. We fought but that was a first-quarter game. The game was won in the first.”
No argument there. But despite a heroic Rockets’ effort, the Warriors came to within six points in the fourth quarter even though their best player knocked his head and missed part of the game.
The Warriors will close out the Rockets Wednesday in Oakland.
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