For those of you who didn’t see, Steph Curry, he the current NBA MVP, took a nasty fall in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals. Steph’s Warriors would lose to the Houston Rockets 128-115 thanks to James Harden’s 45 points, thus keeping Houston’s season alive as they are now down 3-1.
The fall didn’t look pretty at all, occurring just a few minutes before halftime. Steph hustled for a block and went over the top of Trevor Ariza after biting on a pump-fake. Curry missed the rest of the half to be examined, only to return late in the third quarter. The injury was later described as a head contusion, which after seeing the fall, had to be encouraging news to Warriors’ fans everywhere.
Later in the broadcast, Jeff Van Gundy brought up a great point. He addressed the enormous pressure team physicians must face in paradoxically having a player’s health in mind while getting him back on the court as soon as possible. This is obviously much more strenuous and drawn-out in sports like football and hockey, where the injuries are more frequent and more likely to have effects on a player’s health long-term. One can “tough out” an ankle injury without fear of long-term damage; the same can’t be said for an ACL or a head injury.
Which is why it was ironic to have a head injury now be the talking point of the series. Curry, although he returned, may miss game 5. What does this say for team doctors? Although Steph’s is a very minor injury in the head trauma arena, it is all too familiar in contact sports. The injury is not fully disclosed so the player can return sooner than would otherwise be allowed, and so the team doctor can feign ignorance for the time being. Let me iterate this is not a problem in the NBA, at least not nearly to the extent that it is in the NFL and NHL.
However, the point remains: Whose responsibility is it to keep in mind the health of a player? I think everyone would agree it’s the organization’s which is why team doctors exist in the first place. The accountability is then accepted by the doctor, but with the team’s best interests in mind.
The other argument becomes: Doesn’t the player have some control over his own body? To play when he wants to play? To destroy his body at his own risk? And to that I think some people would agree yes, just like anyone can accept that risk by making skydiving a hobby. Though in this case I would think many more would agree that ultimately the decision is the medical staff’s alone, as they are the only experts in the decision-making process.
We’re all just glad that Steph appears to be fine as we approach a Cavs-Warriors final (let’s be honest).
Editor’s Note: This and the Ducks-Blackhawks game were both very exciting to watch but sadly my preferred TV viewing area also happens to be my brother’s room, who was going to sleep in anticipation of his commute to “Worstborough” thus cutting short my sports experience for the night. #LAH