Stephen Curry’s ankle injury has overshadowed the Golden State Warriors’ first-round matchup with the Houston Rockets, which they lead 2-0.
Curry tweaked his ankle in Game 1, playing only a few moments in the second half before coming out of the game. He missed Game 2 after attempting and unsuccessfully making it through warmups.
The injury is concerning, given Curry’s history with ankle issues, particularly early in his career. While he’s overcome them to become one of the more durable stars of the league, the miles he’s logged last season, through the playoffs and finals, and this year’s 73-win grind make the injury a little worrisome.
However, if there’s reason to be optimistic, it’s that Curry appears to be in good hands. Warriors coach Steve Kerr was asked after the game if the Warriors’ 2-0 series lead gives them more time to be cautious with Curry. Kerr gave a refreshing answer about taking care of his star player first and foremost:
“Well, that’s a good question. I’d like to think if it were 1-1 and he was still not able to play, we wouldn’t play him. We’d never want to put winning ahead of a player’s career and his health. We’ve seen teams do that and paid for it. Players have paid for it in the past. So we want to make sure Steph is right and his foot is fine and healthy.
“So we’ll see how he responds the next couple of days, and if he’s not right obviously being up 2-0 does give us more cushion if we decide to sit him. But it will be based on his health, not the series score.”
Kerr did note that Curry made the decision to sit out, and that he wasn’t there when the decision was made.
It wasn’t the first time Kerr mentioned having Curry’s best interests in mind. Though he made a scary reference to Grant Hill, a former star who was plagued by injuries, he reinforced the notion that they care most about Curry’s health, not having him on the floor:
“[Curry] understands we have, first of all, his best interests at heart — his career. We know that he had surgery on that ankle four years ago. He has a lot of basketball ahead of him. There’s plenty of cases in the past where people played through stuff, and it didn’t turn out so well — Grant Hill being the one that always jumps out at me — and whether that’s the same type of thing as this, I don’t really know. But I do know that we have to look after his health because the competitor that he is, he’s going to want to play.”
In a league (and in sports, in general) where players often rush back from injuries on their own will or the team’s will, it’s refreshing to see Kerr legitimately care about Curry. Curry is only 28 years old, with plenty of years of basketball left in him.
Yes, the Warriors need him for any championship chase, but making sure he’s healthy is not only the right move for the team’s future, it’s the right thing to do for Curry.