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Scott Howard-Cooper

Stephen Curry
Golden State's Stephen Curry is averaging almost 18 points a game in his short career.
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Turn for the worse: Questions fly again over Curry's health

Posted Jan 5 2012 10:19AM

OAKLAND -- The ankle went pop, he went down, and Stephen Curry told himself "Not again" while two Golden State teammates helped him off the court.

Not again.

"That's what I kept repeating to myself," Curry said.

Not again.

"I had flashbacks."

That was the Dec. 20 exhibition game in Sacramento. The first sprained ankle of the season. Six days later, the second.

"The second time, it felt different, so I kind of didn't have the same reaction," Curry said. "We were playing a great game against Chicago, we were up, kind of separating ourselves, we had a lot of momentum, and then a freak play (landing on Kyle Korver's foot) happens like that. It was another frustration. I tried to keep playing that time instead of automatically giving up on the game, because I knew. I just didn't want to have to sit out again."

The new season is not quite two weeks old and Curry is that exasperated. He missed eight games in two different stints in 2010-11 because of a sprained right ankle, then underwent surgery in May to repair two torn ligaments in the joint. He hurt the ankle, again, in the second exhibition game, and the same ankle in the second game of the regular season, Dec. 26 against the Bulls, missing one game.

And then Wednesday, he hurt it, again, in San Antonio.

Ankle issues are common in the NBA, only they're supposed to be spread around the entire league. Curry is going for a monopoly.

"You can see it on his face," David Lee, one of his teammates, said last week. "It's just one of those things, though, that he's got to keep his head up and he'll be just fine. Everybody has something that chronically bothers them."

Curry, 23, is a big part of the Warriors' future. The Warriors love his personality and his play. The Hornets, among opponents, hold him in such high regard that two years into his career, Curry was at or near the top of the wish list of talent to get in return for Chris Paul.

There he was, though, in street clothes in front of his locker after the Warriors beat the Knicks at Oracle Arena last Wednesday, openly wondering when "Not Again" strikes again.

"It's going to be on my mind for sure," Curry said. "I'm not going to lie to you and say it won't be. I won't be avoiding contact per se, but just making sure that I'm not in traffic a lot. Just getting through a week or two without having an episode would be good so that I forget that I have a hurt ankle.

"Every day I wake up, I know that my ankle's still messed up. I think the day that I wake up and don't feel that and don't have to go through extensive rehab before practice and games, I think that'll be when I can play free."

For now, he will have to be satisfied with getting through a game or two at a time. A couple weeks straight is forever the way he has been going.

Late in the third quarter Wednesday in San Antonio, Curry grabbed a loose ball and started a break the other way. He came up on the toes of his right foot and, ever so slightly, rolled the ankle. His night was done.

Another hobbling exit. A new round of questions. More uncertainty about his availability in the days and weeks ahead, about whether this is something that could haunt him throughout his career.


Scott Howard-Cooper has covered the NBA since 1988. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

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