TORONTO (CBS SF) — With the NBA Finals on the line and the outcome still in jeopardy, Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry simply walked off the court Monday night to escort injured teammate Kevin Durant to the locker room.
He wasn’t alone. Another starter, Andre Iguodala, was there also, giving Durant a shoulder to lean on as he limped to the trainer’s room. Brotherhood is more than a word to the defending two-time NBA champions.
“Sometimes the spirit tells you what to do,” said Curry, who scored 31 points to lead Golden State to a 106-105 must-win over the Toronto Raptors to force a Game 6 Thursday. “You don’t really make decisions, you just act on it. I can’t tell you what went through my head. It just felt right.”
Durant had returned to the lineup for Game 5 after missing nine straight playoffs games with an injured calf. He was finally cleared to play for Monday’s game with the Warriors facing elimination.
He played brilliantly, scoring 11 points before his Achilles gave out while making a move on the court. As he lay on the court, the Raptors fans cheered his injury. Curry and others surrounded him to show their support.
“Honestly, I don’t know,” said Curry of his actions during the chaotic moments after the injury. “It was an emotional moment all the way around … I really don’t know what I said or what he said. It just sucks man. I don’t what else to say about it.”
In a tearful press conference, team president Bob Myers took aim at Durant’s critics, who has targeted the star all year.
“He’s one of the most misunderstood people,” Meyers said of Durant. “He’s a good teammate, he’s a good person, it’s not fair. I’m lucky to know him.”
Curry also came to Durant’s defense.
“When you are on this level of greatness and everyone is poking and prodding, trying to narrate your story and tell you who you are and who you should be, what decisions you should make, constantly over and over again, [it] comes with the territory,” Curry said. “When you get to know somebody and see how genuine they are. How committed they are just to be playing basketball and having fun and living life a certain way, you root for those type of guys.”
“Whatever his outward appearance is to the media. The end of the day, the people who know him, know what type of guy he is and how special of an individual he is. So all those emotions come out when you see him go down like that. He’s given us everything he has. It’s not even about this series. It’s about long term. His mindset and being able to get back to the player and person that he has shown consistently over the course of his career.”
Curry’s mood reflected those of his teammates. They had a great win, but there was little celebrating Monday night.
“Everybody gets so wrapped in chasing championships and the greatness you see on the floor, but life is more important in terms of caring about an individual and what they are going through on a daily basis,” he said. “You see the commitment and the challenges and what’s been thrown at KD. This whole year really. He gave us what he had. He went out there and sacrificed his body.”
“A part of of our mentality, the experiences we have as a team, what we’ve all been through is way more important than anything that happens on the court.”
Klay Thompson, who scored 26 points in the win, also didn’t mince words.
“All those talking heads how say we are better without him — that’s ludicrous,” Thompson said. “He’s the best player in the world. You could put him on the 30th team and that team will make the playoffs.”
“So we don’t pay any of [Durant’s critics] no mind because with him I really believe we are one of the greatest teams to ever play. Without him we are a really good team … That [talk about Durant and the Warriors] is just stupid. He’s a warrior. You saw what he did tonight. He sacrificed his body. It was very deflating to see him go out. I’m praying for him.”
Durant’s mother, Wanda Durant, took to social media Tuesday morning to echo the players’ sentiments.
“For ALL if you who question my son as a Man, question his Heart, question his Integrity and question his Love for the game of basketball, you DON’T know him. He has a heart of a true Warrior! This too shall pass. God Bless you ALL,” she posted.