The Warriors’ locker room was dealt a heartbreaking blow when Gary Payton II slammed to the court floor in Game 2 of their Western Conference semifinals matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies.
It was even more devastating for Payton, who had finally found a home where he could thrive in Golden State after years of grinding through adversity.
He was well on his way to becoming an NBA playoff hero -- and perhaps had already earned that title with his opening-round Game 5 performance against the Denver Nuggets -- when Dillon Brooks’ Flagrant 2 foul at FedExForum on Tuesday night fractured his elbow.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Warriors coach Steve Kerr put Payton’s pain into words and said Brooks’ Game 3 suspension “doesn’t matter.”
“Gary’s out. Gary’s out for the foreseeable future, or weeks,” Kerr said. “That’s the only thing that matters to us. … He’s bummed. He’s got a huge brace on his arm and he’s going to be out for a long time.
Golden State Warriors
Payton’s injury will be re-evaluated in two weeks, the Warriors announced Thursday, but the 29-year-old being ripped from the bright lights of the NBA playoffs while he was doing so well is a tough pill for Kerr to swallow.
The Warriors guard went undrafted in 2016 and persevered through stints with five G League teams and four NBA teams over a five-year span before excelling as part of Golden State’s roster.
“Six years toiling away in the league, as I said the other night, in the spotlight, playing in the playoffs, playing a huge role, playing well,” Kerr said. “That’s all been taken away from him. So we all feel terrible for Gary. He deserves better.”
It remains to be seen exactly when Payton will be able to come back to the court, but the Warriors will certainly play their hardest to outlast their playoff opponents as they wait for him to return.