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Arena: Curry fall shows NBA success a fleeting prospect

The NBA season flashed before my eyes Sunday night when Stephen Curry crashed to the floor against Houston, a scary fall that left both Curry’s head and arm prone to injury.

Thankfully, the league’s MVP escaped any major damage and even returned to the game. But it highlighted just how fleeting success in sports can be.

Consider that Golden State is by far, at this point, the odds-on favorite to win the NBA championship. The Warriors were up 3-0 against Houston at the time of his fall, a lead which has never been overcome in NBA history. Were Curry’s fall to leave him sidelined or limited for a significant amount of time, not only would the Warriors have likely fallen to underdog status against a Cavaliers or Hawks (re: it’ll be the Cavs.) in the finals, but there’s no guarantee they’d finish Houston off without the services of the league’s best shooter.

It would have been a huge story because of the Warriors’ status as favorites. A Rockets/Cavs final would almost assuredly feel flat, the winner almost emerging by default in the eyes of the public.

The crazy thing is, though, so much already has been effected by injury, and this is the case every single season. You need to be lucky and good to win a major championship, and the primary part of “luck” is health. Houston is missing Patrick Beverley, an underrated player who might be the best defender of point guards in the NBA (think that might have helped against Curry in games 1-3?). Tony Allen was limited in the Memphis series, as was Mike Conley. San Antonio, in my mind, is the best team aside from Golden State in the NBA when healthy, but they rarely were this season, and Tony Parker was nothing resembling that in the playoffs.

In the East, Cleveland is persevering in spite of the loss of Kevin Love and the hampering of Kyrie Irving. Atlanta is down Kyle Korver. Chicago’s most consistent players this season were Jimmy Butler and Pau Gasol, and Gasol was down in the latter half of that series. Who knows how things would play out if all hands were on deck?

I remember thinking when the Saints won the Super Bowl, how foolish I had been in years past to believe that some of those New Orleans teams could legitimately contend.

The 2009 Saints were a legitimately great team, by far the best in team history to that point, and one that got to the playoffs mostly  healthy. It took everything they had, even so, to upend Minnesota in the Superdome, including forcing five turnovers.

It shows how special it is to win a title. You have to be very good. And, more often than not, you have to be very good for long enough to be in position to be very lucky when it matters.

It’s why behind every great single season team at any level, there’s almost always a great program that first built the foundation.