Aside from Kyrie Irving, Stephen Curry is the other point guard who made his name this year with his ankle-breaking crossovers. Like Irving, Curry had durability issues early in his career. This season has been a welcome change from years past, but Tuesday night was a reminder of why the injury fear is still out there for him.
Curry gave a reminder that success is fleeting, when he rolled his left ankle midway through the third quarter.
Normally, a rolled ankle would be treated with a four on the worry-o-meter. However, Curry’s gimpiness on the sideline had the Bay Area resembling Chicago fans when Derrick Rose went down clutching his knee last April. For Warriors fans, it was like watching Jason Voorhees emerge from Camp Crystal Lake with a revved up chainsaw. Hearts plunged like the Dow, before Curry casually returned to continue knocking down treys and finished with 30 points and 13 assists.
When David Lee injured his thigh in Game 1, there was disappointment about his inability to return this postseason. However, Curry’s injury scare had Warriors fans concerned about the prospects of their entire franchise’s future.
Ankle injuries automatically hark back to Grant Hill’s career derailment, but Eric Gordon’s career is the modern nightmare scenario for how a talented young guard’s career can be turned upside down because of a physical flaw. As a young Clipper, Gordon appeared to be on track for a career as a premier combo guard. Until what appeared to be a minor knee injury limited him to nine games during the lockout-shortened ’11-’12 season, and a recurring knee issue sidelined him for half of this year.
Likewise, Curry’s ankles were all out of whack last season when he missed 40 of 66 games and went under the knife twice. There were concerns that his stride pattern or other joints in his lower leg were contributing to “ankle instability.”
This year, Curry has doubled the return on the four-year $44 million dollar extension he signed during the offseason. In the short term, the Warriors have a reasonable chance of taking control of this series after stealing a game on Denver’s home floor. In the long term, Curry’s ankles are the fulcrum of the entire organization.