You know how every team in the world announces the remediation of a player injury with the pithy phrase, “The surgery was successful?" Of course you do. It happens all the time.
True, you roll your eyes a bit when you hear it because you find yourself asking, “If successful surgery is the cure of the patient, which nobody can know at the time of the announcement, what would constitute unsuccessful surgery?" When the doctor leaves his cellphone in the incision? When the doctor leaves a lit cigarette by the oxygen? When the doctor repairs a deviated septum by lopping off a leg?
Thus we are a bit grateful that the Golden State Warriors made no announcement at all on head coach Steve Kerr’s operation Friday in Durham, N.C. Indeed, had owner/investors’ front man Joe Lacob not blabbed to Bloomberg Radio about it, we still wouldn’t know.
But Lacob at least had the good sense not to describe the procedure as “successful,” because as we now know, nobody knows, and nobody will know until Kerr announces the end of his nightmarish symptomology.
Here, in fact, is what Lacob said (against, courtesy Bloomberg):
“It’s very unfortunate what’s happening here. He had a back surgery, (a) relatively common procedure almost two years ago now, and had a . . . relatively uncommon thing happen, which is the dura around the spinal cord got nicked and you wind up having a spinal cord leak, and ultimately headaches and other symptoms. Bad headaches. Migraines.
“Unfortunately usually they patch that with a blood patch and it’s over, either in a week or month, whatever. And in his case for whatever reason they just haven’t been able to solve that problem. Hopefully it was solved yesterday, He had another procedure. It’s gone on for nearly two years. Very unusual I believe. I have a medical background so I know a little bit about this. I’ve never really heard of many people having this problem for this long. We feel really bad for him, the players, everybody understands it. We just have to be in his court here and support whatever it takes for him to get back and I’m sure they will eventually solve it. Hopefully sooner rather than later and hopefully we’ll have him coaching on the court sooner rather than later.”
See? No “surgery was successful” claptrap. No message other than optimism that the Duke surgeons found the problem, caulked it up and Kerr can begin the process of not hating every waking moment.
Now that’s a medical announcement. No instant prognosis, no timetable for a return, just “it happened, we hope this is the last of it, and we hope we can get him back to the job we pay him for.”
In other words, this is a successful surgery when Steve Kerr says it is, and not a moment before.
In fact, it seems almost distasteful to speculate on Kerr’s return because 18 months of his level of agony doesn’t get tidied up right away, and he has an interesting life view that must be heeded – namely, that coaching isn’t all there is. True, the Warriors have not shown any signs of deterioration in his absence, so one could make the case that he needn’t hurry back.
But he needn’t hurry back because his cure is what matters here. His job isn’t in jeopardy despite the fact that his winning percentage is more than 100 points lower than that of his two replacements, Mike Brown and Luke Walton. His reputation has been unharmed by his absence, his replacements have been fiercely loyal and his players have been unaffected by Kerr’s medical kerfuffle.
(Sorry. It needed to be done.)
Most importantly, though, it is good to remember that this surgery won’t be a success until Kerr says it is, and that won’t be when he comes back to the bench, but when he can wake up and face the day without trepidation. He’s had 18 months of getting used to nausea and headaches, and he can now get used to neither.
If the surgery was successful, that is.