Exhilaration And Awfulness Of The Game

Good and bad news in one contest.

Jim Rome
April 13, 2021 - 9:26 am
Jamal Murray

USA Today

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Last night’s Nuggets-Warriors game had a lot going on. And you had both ends of the spectrum: the EXHILIARATOIN and greatness of Steph Curry and the HORRIFICLY AWFUL of an injury to Jamal Murray. Let’s start with the bad news first. 

Late in the game, with the Nuggets trailing by seven with less than a minute to go, Murray drove to the basket, looking to make something happen. And the absolute worst happened. Roll it. 

There is so much that is HORRIBLE about that. Like the fact that you could hear him shout and then slapping the floor in pain if you were watching the game. Like the reaction from the other players on the court. 

Like the fact that he had just come back from an injury to his other knee. Like the fact that he is one of the truly special players in the game. 

Like the fact that this is a guy who is down even with less than a minute to go and he’s battling his ass off to try to keep his team in the game and maybe send it to overtime and he goes down like that? Just awful.

And when you see something like that, you hope for the best. Maybe it’s not as bad as it looked, maybe it’s just an awkward landing. Maybe it’s sprained. Or hyperextended.

And then the word came down this morning and it’s as bad as everyone feared: torn ACL. 

Damn!!! That really, really, really sucks. It sucks for the Nuggets who went to the Western Conference Finals last year and then made the move for Aaron Gordon this year. It sucks for Murray who was an absolute legend in the playoffs last year, turning into a playoff superstar in front of our very eyes. 

And it sucks for anyone and everyone who likes basketball. Because you want to see the best of the best and Jamal Murray, in the playoffs, is the best of the best. Do you remember the two 50-point games against the Jazz? Do you remember the 40 points in Game 7 against the Clippers? Dude was electric: and that just got ripped from him, the nuggets and really all of us. Just a bad, bad deal.

And while the Murray injury leaves a HORRIBLE taste in everyone’s mouth after last night’s Nuggets-Warriors game, it also means that we should appreciate what we get to see from every great player and appreciate it while it happens, because it could be taken away in a moment.

And last night, we got to see history from Steph Curry. He went into last night’s game with a really good chance of becoming the Warriors all-time leading scorer.

And if you haven’t been paying attention, there’s a decent chance you’ll be surprised by who was the Warriors all-time leading scorer. It’s not Rick Barry. It’s not Chris Mullin. It’s Wilt Chamberlain.

And last night, Curry needed 19 points to break Chamberlain’s scoring mark. And he got it. In the first quarter.

So yes, Steph Curry broke Wilt Chamberlain’s scoring mark. You can go all beavis and butthead with it: get it all out morons.  Because while that is what many of you are all about, that’s not what last night was all about. 

That first quarter, HELL the whole game, was a reminder of the greatness of Steph Curry. I know the last two years have been very un-Warriors and Curry might not be top of mind every night. But last night put him right back there. 

Because he had it all working. Of course he was heating it up from deep with shots like this.

And like this

And then the one that broke the record.

But he didn’t stop at 19. He kept on rolling. He had 21 in the first quarter. He had 53 for the game on 24 shots. He was 10 of 18 from deep.

In other words, he was Steph Curry. He was, and is, the guy who completely changed a franchise and completely changed the game. The Golden State Warriors were the laughingstock of the league before he arrived. They were a punchline. They were a joke.

The idea of Golden State winning a championship was IDIOTIC. And now they have three with him. And that’s just the start. Because it isn’t just about how he’s changed that team and that organization, it’s about how he’s changed the league.

He revolutionized the game in a way that few others have ever done in any sport. He doesn’t just take threes, he takes deep threes, which changes the way other teams play on defense. And changes how other greats play on offense. And the way kids play the game now. 

It’s not an overstatement to say that he broke the 4-minute mile in basketball. That when he started pulling up from Curry Range, everyone else started thinking, maybe I can do that. Maybe I can stretch my range. Maybe I can do what he does and pull up from the logo. 

If you like sports and you like basketball, count yourself lucky to be alive right now to be able to watch Steph Curry play. Enjoy it. Savor it. Because greatness is rare and it’s truly special. We got a stark reminder of that last night, in the worst way and in the best way.