Warriors' chase of 73 didn't cause fluke injury

— -- This is exactly why Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and the rest of the Golden State Warriors were thoroughly justified in their lust to all-out chase those mythical, magical 73 wins.

These past 10 days explain it all. ? The whole Curry saga that has consumed the opening round of the playoffs -- first his tweaked ankle, but mostly Sunday's utterly luckless slip on a sweat puddle -- is the starkest of reminders that mishaps strike in the postseason without warning.

As is the freshly broken hand of Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul.

You can plan ahead. You can hold back. You can devote several chapters of the team playbook, San Antonio-style, to regular-season rest if you wish.

None of it makes star players or the teams built around them immune to fluke injury.

So why do we pretend like it does?

The Warriors' decision-makers understand this, which is why they reiterated the following so many times in March and April: Golden State's players are the ones who put the franchise in position to break the Chicago Bulls' seemingly unbreakable single-season record of 72 wins. It wouldn't be just, coach Steve Kerr and GM Bob Myers concluded, to deny them that opportunity when there's no guarantee that bubble-wrapping big names wins you anything.

So the Warriors went for 73, despite the weeks of know-it-all lecturing they were forced to endure about what a bad idea it was, because the Dubs realized it was likely the only chance they would have to trump Michael Jordan's best team ever.

Would any ultraconservative measures have kept Curry any safer in that fateful Game 4 against the Houston Rockets? It's true that, as NBA consumers, we've never paid more attention to the methods teams employ to maximize injury prevention. But do we really believe Curry was more susceptible to a mishap in the 2016 playoffs because he logged 87 minutes more this season than he did in the 2014-15 regular season?

We'll happily recant any of the above claims if someone can conclusively prove that the energy Curry expended in March and April is directly related to the misfortune that sent him sprawling and tumbling at Toyota Center.

We'll wait.

Nor can you convince me, as loudly as this slam gets recited over and over, that a groundbreaking mark of 73-9 is an empty achievement without a championship attached.

One of the first people I can remember saying it this season was actually Warriors sharpshooter Klay Thompson. We were gathered around a table at the All-Star Game in Toronto, when Thompson told our ESPN Radio gang that surpassing Chicago's 72 wins "won't mean a thing without a ring."

Now? Especially under these circumstances?

Not buying it.

If it turns out that the Curry injury is what indeed derails the NBA's defending champs, as opposed to a straight-up series loss to San Antonio or Cleveland or maybe even Oklahoma City, I know at least one NBA historian who will remember the Warriors' milestone in the standings as a (near) championship unto itself.


The 116-win Seattle Mariners of 2001 hit a collective .211 in the American League Championship Series as they unraveled against the New York Yankees. The 2007 New England Patriots were 12-point favorites, and essentially at full strength, when they fumbled their 18-0 season against the New York Giants in an epic Super Bowl upset.

This isn't the same kind of story.

Neither those Mariners nor those Patriots -- nor John Calipari's 38-1 Kentucky Wildcats in 2015 -- had to cope with a late-season curveball as nasty as the loss of Curry.

Maybe Steph makes it back by the end of the second round, or the start of the conference finals, with no further health issues this spring, rendering moot all this hypothesizing and rationalizing. Or maybe Golden State's bid for back-to-back titles is beyond salvation, because this isn't an injury that can be quickly shaken.

No matter what happens from here, Golden State's season already has been historic. Historically great, even. Those ridiculous 73 wins ensured that the Dubs added to their legacy ?before the first jump ball of these playoffs.

Amid so much uncertainty now, they've never had less reason to apologize for chasing that one extra W to take them past His Airness.