You had to see and study their faces. One after another, the eyes and chins of the Warriors conveyed deep sadness and profound concern, not for themselves but for their fallen teammate.
When DeMarcus Cousins was helped off the court in Game 2 of the first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers in April, the fear running through his teammates was palpable. They were worried about Boogie’s reaction to another physical setback.
There is no doubt widespread dread contributed to the Warriors coughing away a 31-point lead, at home, allowing the Clippers to race to a victory that evened the series before it shifted to Los Angeles for Games 3 and 4.
The Warriors, after all, had just watched their teammate lose a dream he had visualized ever since entering the NBA nearly a decade earlier. In the postseason for the first time, Cousins lasted 25 minutes.
That dream, reproduced when he signed with the Lakers last month, was shattered yet again on Thursday, when Cousins reportedly sustained a knee injury during a workout. According to multiple reports, he is expected to be diagnosed with a torn ACL.
Even when it seems Boogie had caught a professional break in signing with a championship contender for the second consecutive summer, he is punished by the invisible enemy that is rotten luck.
The Warriors were genuinely worried that Cousins might dip into at least a slight depression. He had spent nearly a year wrestling with the demanding rehabilitation required to recover from a ruptured Achilles’ tendon and made it back onto the court, only to tear a quad muscle less than three months later.
“I’m seriously worried about him,” one veteran teammate said of Cousins after Game 2 against the Clippers. “When something means so much to somebody and it’s taken away like that (snaps fingers), the mind can go to some dark places.
“I know he was counting on this. This is why he came here. We saw how hard he worked, and it paid off. He was finally in the playoffs. And now he’s gone. I only hope it’s not as bad as it looked.”
It wasn’t. Though it was thought Cousins could miss two months -- putting him out of the playoffs no matter how far the Warriors went -- he was back on the court in six weeks, in time to return for the NBA Finals against the Raptors.
When Boogie played eight low-impact minutes in Game 1, concern remained. Could he reach the level of conditioning necessary to compete at the highest level, at this most critical time?
So he delivered a highly encouraging Game 2, contributing 11 points, 10 rebounds and six assists over 28 minutes, helping the Warriors tie the series. The air in the locker room was cooler and lighter. Cousins allowed himself to smile.
And now this. The Warriors are sick. The Lakers are sicker. The people that care for Cousins are distraught. Boogie has to be the most despondent of all.
These three injuries, all to his lower body, all during the last 20 months, have cost him tens of millions of dollars. They have kept him away from his professional purpose for long stretches, resulting in the most trying times of his career -- far worse than he thought he had it during the nearly seven seasons he spent with the woeful and dysfunctional Sacramento Kings.
Cousins, who turned 29 on Tuesday, now has to fight off the despair sure to stalk him. He has to listen to the beat of his heart appreciate his family and realize that this is temporary and that he will have basketball for as long as he walks this earth.
He’ll need constant support from friends and teammates and former teammates, as the pervasive fear of April plummeted to the outright angst of August.
No matter how you feel about the basketball player, and Boogie has his adversaries, wish the man well.