SAN FRANCISCO — A broken hand. A busted season. The man who was going to carry the team, who was supposed to be a candidate for another MVP award, went crashing to the floor.
And what little seemed to be left of a season that now is endless crashed along with him.
Steph Curry, the player the Warriors could not afford to lose, has been lost. For how long nobody knows, but what everybody does know is that even a minute would be too long. But we’re talking weeks.
There will be an MRI and other tests Thursday, and the doctors and Curry — and of course the Warriors, in this first season haunted by the Chase Center curse — will find out whether Steph needs surgery or he doesn’t. Either way, he’s out for many games.
This couldn’t be any worse for the Warriors. Even with Curry on the floor at Chase on Wednesday night, they were getting overwhelmed — embarrassed if you will — by the Phoenix Suns.
The final wasn’t that bad, the Suns winning 121-110. But in the first quarter, Phoenix led 43-14. The game was as good as over.
Unfortunately for the Warriors, now 1-3 this season, 0-2 at their new home, having led for a total of just over 2 minutes in those two, the game was not over.
It would go on. And Curry, with 8:31 remaining in the third quarter, would get tangled up with the Suns’ Aron Baynes. Looking very much like a running back who had been tackled, Steph soared heels-over-head.
He reached out with his left arm for balance, and his hand hit the floor. What was left of the Warriors season hit the skids.
“This puts us in a tough spot,” was the obvious understatement of Warriors coach Steve Kerr. “We’ll assess it and go on.” Kerr wasn’t trying to be funny. He probably was in shock.
Those glory days, the five straight trips to the finals, the record 73-win season of 2016, now seem a million years away. It’s become a Greek tragedy. The gods are conspiring to make the Warriors pay for all their success.
Everything went so right. Now it’s all gone horribly wrong.
Kevin Durant fled to Brooklyn. Klay Thompson tore up his knee. Steph breaks his hand. The season turns to dust.
It’s basketball. It’s big, skilled men running and leaping, scoring points, playing hard and hoping for the best. It’s the ecstasy and agony of sport.
“Just one of those things,” said Kerr. That sounds like a Cole Porter song title. But it’s a mournful melody for a franchise so accustomed to the joyful marches of victory parades.
One season, the Warriors get to the sixth game of the NBA finals. The next season, they’re getting their comeuppance.
“Aron Baynes came up after the game,” Kerr said, “and wanted to know how Steph was doing. You could tell he felt really bad. It was just a random basketball play. Stuff happens.”
No Klay. No Steph. No splashing from the Splash Brothers. Guys named Eric Paschal and D’Angelo Russell on the court. The Dubs looking awful. Kerr looking for something, anything.
On-the-job training against the best players in the world. Kerr understands, but will those fans in the $300 seats, the ones who couldn’t stay until the final buzzer, understand?
“It’s a great opportunity for the young guys to play,” said Kerr, “but it’s a little too much. You want to bring along rookies as best you can, but we’re just putting so much on the plate. But we have no choice with all the injuries.”
Kerr liked what he saw in the second half, but the Warriors gave up 70 points in the first half. Defense is the most difficult part of the game, and the most important part.
“There were some bright spots for our young guys,” said Kerr, “Eric and Jordan (Poole). I was thrilled by the effort in the second half.”
What happened to Steph Curry in the second half was what most of us will remember. It wasn’t thrilling. It was chilling.