Warriors' Steph Curry battling worst enemy once again after hand surgery

Warriors' Steph Curry battling worst enemy once again after hand surgery

SAN FRANCISCO – Stephen Curry’s worst and most detested enemy is back with a vengeance, and it’s not the Lakers or the Rockets or the Clippers or the Trail Blazers.

The Reputation.

The one that followed him through his early NBA years, the caveat that always seemed to serve as a fair rebuttal to his spectacular work on the basketball court.

That he can’t stay healthy. That he is, well, soft.

It is, like many reputations, not precisely true, as anyone, teammate or otherwise, who has spent any time around Curry would know. Asked several years ago to describe something about Curry that most people don’t know, Draymond Green scrolled right past the practical jokester, the popcorn addiction and the Christian hip-hop devotee.

“How tough he is,” said Green, who knows toughness when he sees it.

Curry’s future was considered so perilous that the Warriors in October 2012 were able to sign this nascent superstar to a contract extension that was reasonable at the time: $44 million, over four years. The Warriors offered it because he missed 56 games the previous season and was six months removed from surgery on his right ankle.

Having endured enough injuries to both ankles to open the question of how much career he might have, and whether he’d be able to meet the expectations that come with being selected seventh overall in the 2009 draft, Curry signed the deal. He wanted security.

Curry spent the next five seasons outplaying it to such degree that he became the best bargain in NBA history. He was a two-time MVP, a perennial All-Star, whose 2015-16 paychecks were smaller than four of his teammates.

Curry during this time missed a total of 16 games, and never more than four in a season. He delivered five brilliant seasons, two of which yielded MVP awards, the second of which was the first unanimous voting in NBA history.

The Reputation? Curry vanquished it, flushing it out of his life.

And now it’s slipping back into his life to haunt him once more.

Curry sustained a break in his left hand on Wednesday night that resulted in surgery on Friday morning. He will miss at least three months, meaning at least 45 games. He won’t be re-evaluated until late January or early February, to count on more than 50.

This is not like the occasional knee sprains and ankle tweaks that over the past two seasons have robbed Curry of 34 regular-season games, and 12 more in the postseason. The Warriors were built to withstand those, and Curry was always back for The Finals.

These Warriors needed Curry. They have no chance of making the playoffs without him. They have little chance of winning 40 percent of their games. And he’s gone until February at the soonest.

This was the season, you may recall, during which Curry would show his value under duress. Kevin Durant was gone, no longer a factor. Klay Thompson was recovering from knee surgery and would miss most of, if not all of, the season. Curry was a popular choice as preseason MVP because any success the deconstructed Warriors might have would be attributed to him.

[RELATED: How Warriors will adjust offense during Steph's absence]

Green on Friday morning said he feels worst about Curry not being able to pick up his son, Canon, or use his hands to frolic with daughters Riley and Ryan. There may be times when Curry won’t be able to hand his wife, Ayesha, a pot.

“It sucks,” Green said.

Indeed, it does. But those simple pleasures and tasks will come back, and they never were subjected to The Reputation.

No, that’s something Curry will spend the next few months trying to deny and ignore, knowing all the while there is nothing he could have done to avoid getting hurt and nothing he can do to keep the description he hates most from circling the NBA.

Matt Barnes was on verge of NFL pursuit before Warriors offered chance

Matt Barnes was on verge of NFL pursuit before Warriors offered chance

Matt Barnes wasn't guaranteed or promised anything in his NBA career.

In fact, the former Warriors forward nearly left hoops in 2006 to pursue football.

"I was on the verge of trying to jump into the NFL," Barnes recently explained to Warriors broadcaster Bob Fitzgerald. "I was still working out -- basketball and football -- during the summertime because basketball hadn't really seemed to hit.

"I had played four years up to that point and bounced around -- been on a handful of teams -- and just really wasn't getting a fair shot."

Barnes was selected in the second round (No. 46 overall) of the 2002 NBA Draft, but spent his entire rookie season in the G League with the Fayetteville Patriots.

He didn't make his NBA debut until Jan. 19, 2004 when the Clippers gave him a shot with a 10-day contract.

Barnes signed with the Sacramento Kings in October 2004, and appeared in 43 games before he was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in February.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

That brings us to the summer of 2006.

"I was in Sacramento (his hometown) at the time. Baron Davis called me (and said), 'Hey, we're gonna have an open run at the facility (in Oakland). If you're not doing nothing, come down.' I wasn't doing nothing. Hopped in my car, drove down an hour and a half. 

"Played well -- not knowing that Nellie (Warriors coach Don Nelson) was watching the whole time upstairs through the offices. We finished playing, he comes down, tells me I played well (and asks) where I'm going to camp. I was just like, 'You know coach, I don't really have any plans.'

"He told me, he's like, 'I can't promise you anything. I think we have 16 guarantees and 19 people coming to training camp, but if you play like you did today I'll give you a chance.' And that was the first time a coach really had a conversation with me. That's all I needed.

"(I) made the team and continued to use the games as practices and eventually worked my way into the lineup. The rest is history. That's kind of when I put my name on the map."

Over 76 games (23 starts) during the "We Believe" 2006-07 season, Barnes averaged 9.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.0 steals, while shooting nearly 37 percent from deep. In 11 playoff games, he averaged 11.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.5 steals and shot over 42 percent from 3-point range.

[RELATED: Barnes reveals 'We Believe' Warriors documentary in works]

After one more season with the Dubs in 2007-08, Barnes played for the Phoenix Suns, Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies and Kings.

He returned to the Warriors in early March 2017 after Kevin Durant sustained a knee injury, and became an NBA champion.

The 40-year-old currently co-hosts a fantastic podcast with Stephen Jackson called "All the Smoke," and he is terrific as an analyst on TV.

It's crazy to think how different his life could have been had he not picked up BD's phone call 14 years ago ...

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Damian Lillard torches Dan Orlovsky for 'spoiled', 'entitled' remarks

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Damian Lillard torches Dan Orlovsky for 'spoiled', 'entitled' remarks

We live in an era of hot takes. Being correct isn't as important as being noticed. Ratings triumph over truth.

It leads to a situation in which television pundits frequently spout off misguided and easily disproven snap judgments without understanding the true context of the situation. Why give an accurate assessment when a bombastic quote can drive exponentially more traffic?

Most times, they aren't held accountable. On Thursday, though, Damian Lillard wasn't going to let that fly.

Lillard recently announced that he would sit out games if and when the NBA resumed the season if the Trail Blazers didn't have a chance to qualify for the playoffs and compete for a championship. While that is entirely reasonable, former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky joined ESPN's "Get Up" on Wednesday and put his foot in his mouth in criticizing Lillard's decision.

"How can you sit there and go, ‘Nope, I’m not going to play, but understand that there are people out there that don’t have that choice," Orlovsky said. "They have to go to work. They have to go earn their money. I struggle with sitting here and going ‘you don’t come off, in some way, a spoiled and entitled brat by saying I’m not going to play."

Spoiled and entitled? Seriously? Lillard is anything but, and he didn't let that idiotic comment slide.

Let's see. Lillard grew up in a rough part of Oakland. He didn't have a single D-1 scholarship offer coming out of high school. He attended a mid-major at Weber State University and built himself up to become the No. 6 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. In the time since, he has been named Rookie of the Year, made four All-NBA teams, selected to five All-Star games and become the face of his franchise. Not to mention, he continually gives back to his Oakland community, including hosting an annual picnic and donating to his high school.

What exactly is spoiled about that? And Orlovsky has the nerve to call Lillard entitled?!

Orlovsky, as Lillard reminded him, was a career backup. 

Across 12 career starts, he posted a 2-10-0 record. He is most known for unknowingly stepping out of the back of the end zone for a safety. And this is the guy who we're supposed to view as an authority on the circumstances of a superstar?

Come. On.

Lillard doesn't back down, on the court or off of it. He didn't relent in calling Orlovsky out, and to no one's surprise, the comments eventually were walked back ... sort of.

I suppose you can credit Orlovsky for acknowledging his mistake and apologizing, but I won't. If not for Lillard defending himself, the comments likely would have gone unchecked and further emboldened the hot-take culture.

[RELATED: Warriors could practice again at Chase in next two weeks]

Maybe Orlovsky will think twice -- or at least do a little research -- before opening his mouth next time.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]