Steph reacts to shoulder injury, is relieved surgery isn't needed


PHILADELPHIA -- To Steph Curry, the next steps for the Warriors superstar are all about pain management and letting his left shoulder settle back in place. Or, as he put it Friday during Warriors shootaround at Wells Fargo Center hours ahead of Golden State's game against the Philadelphia 76ers, his mindset has to be the same as the Sixers' once infamous slogan.

"Trust the process, no pun intended on where we are," Curry said. 

An MRI Thursday in Philadelphia revealed Curry sustained a left shoulder subluxation. He's expected to miss at least a few weeks, though there isn't an exact timeline for his return. The Warriors have said Curry's re-evaluation process will be determined in "the coming days." 

Everything that Curry has been told is that the back end of his recovery should be faster than the front end. How long will the start take? That's too hard to determine at this point. 

All of this is new to Curry, the feeling and the injury. Even mentally, he doesn't want to predict how long he might be out and put a number on anything. He's taking everything one day at a time, listening to his body and consulting with the Warriors' medical and training staff. 

The best news for Curry and the Warriors is avoiding the dreaded "S" word: Surgery. That will not be required this season, and he hasn't let the possibility of an offseason procedure be a concept yet. 

"Oh, 100 percent," Curry said when asked if he felt a sense of relief in knowing he doesn't need surgery to repair his left shoulder this season. "That changed the whole dynamic of the conversation, personally and as a team.

"Just trying to stay positive and understand I'll be back sooner than later, hopefully. And hopefully, I won't miss a beat in terms of the rest of my body and my game with how I've been playing." 

Two days after the initial injury Curry sustained late in the third quarter of the Warriors' 125-119 loss to the Indiana Pacers, the point guard says the pain he's feeling right now isn't as bad as he thought it would be. At first, pain shot through his shoulder and down his left arm. He has been told pain can linger, and he knows his patience will be tested in wanting to get back on the court as soon as possible. 

The Warriors being 14-15 and 2-13 on the road following an NBA championship season certainly doesn't help the struggles of patience for a competitor like Curry. 

However, Curry being one of the best conditioned athletes in the NBA should be a big help. He doesn't prepare for injuries, per se, but his body is built for adversity. 

Though the pain and confusion startled him, the worst-case scenario wasn't what first popped into Curry's mind. 

"It actually wasn't too much fear," Curry said. "I know how I felt and then what the initial diagnosis was before the MRI was right. There's two or three different outcomes. It was just a matter of making sure I didn't need surgery and knowing my shoulder would be able to heal itself on its own. 

"I know the surgeries are like four to six months, and nobody wants to be dealing with that right now." 

Curry expects to be pain free in about a week and will remain with the Warriors throughout the remainder of their six-game road trip, which still includes games in Philadelphia, Toronto and two in New York.

The road trip ends Dec. 21, and the Warriors will travel home to San Francisco the next morning. 

While it won't exactly help him return quicker, there is a silver lining that Curry's injury is to his left shoulder instead of his shooting hand right shoulder. With a subluxation, the shoulder gets a little more unstable over time. Simply, there's nothing Curry or anybody else can do about that. It's the reality of the situation. 

It also brought him back to a few years ago when Curry was injured four games into the 2019-20 NBA season. He broke his hand. That is, his left hand -- not his shooting hand. 

"Trying to manage it as much as possible whenever I do come back the rest of the year, but knowing it is the left, it's definitely fortunate in that respect," Curry said. "Kind of like when I broke my hand. It's more just a feel thing with confidence that I can still shoot the ball. 

"But I don't think it helps you come back any quicker, from what I've been told." 

When Curry was forced to the locker room Wednesday night at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, he was giving the Warriors another dominant showing. In 30 minutes, Curry already had scored 38 points on 11-for-19 shooting, was 5-for-10 on 3-pointers and 11-for-11 at the free-throw line. He also added seven assists and seven rebounds. 

The rest of his teammates had scored 42 points at the time of his injury. Going into halftime, Curry scored 27 points -- the same amount as the rest of the Warriors combined.

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Through 26 games this season, Curry, at 34 years old, has put up numbers similar to or better than his unanimous 2015-16 MVP season. Known as the greatest shooter of all time, Curry is averaging 30 points per game while shooting 50 percent from the field, 43.4 percent from deep and 91.9 percent on free throws. Always adding to his game, Curry also has averaged 6.8 assists and a career-high 6.6 rebounds per game. 

"I've been playing as confident as ever," Curry said. "Coming off that COVID year and all that, I feel like I've been in the best shape of my life. My body's been able to be pretty resilient through that shortened season and then into last year and our playoff run and all that, picking up right where I left off this year.

"I know injuries are part of the game and they happen at random times, sometimes unfortunate times. But it's just about the perspective of I think I can maintain all that and heal and pick up right where I left off as soon as I get cleared to play. That's the stuff that y'all will see the next couple of weeks, just putting the work in to get right back to work."

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