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Steph Curry not tough? The injury that almost derailed Davidson’s NCAA run

Steph Curry (center) had the choice of redshirting in his sophomore season because of a wrist injury that could have required surgery. Instead, Curry played through pain and had his left wrist taped up early in the season until it healed on its own. Here Curry (in white) battles Tyler Hansbrough (left) for a rebound in a November 2007 game against UNC in Charlotte.
Steph Curry (center) had the choice of redshirting in his sophomore season because of a wrist injury that could have required surgery. Instead, Curry played through pain and had his left wrist taped up early in the season until it healed on its own. Here Curry (in white) battles Tyler Hansbrough (left) for a rebound in a November 2007 game against UNC in Charlotte. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

You think Steph Curry is not tough enough?

Those whispers have surfaced again during these playoffs. Curry has missed six of a possible 12 NBA playoff games – first because of a sprained ankle and then with a sprained knee – and has had to leave two others early. He also got a knot the size of a tennis ball on his elbow Wednesday night, which didn’t require him to miss time but looked nasty.

Curry’s slight frame was what made UNC, Duke and all the rest not bother recruiting him coming out of Charlotte Christian and was part of why the two-time NBA MVP lasted until No. 7 in the 2009 NBA draft.

But not tough enough? Seriously?

Let Davidson coach Bob McKillop tell you a story about the time that a magical season almost got derailed before it ever got started.

“This was in 2007, a couple of days before we played No. 1 North Carolina at Time Warner Cable Arena,” McKillop said. “Steph was a sophomore. He had had a great freshman season for us, and by this time he knew there was probably a pro career out there for him. He also had a cartilage tear in his left wrist. The decision had to be made: Get the surgery and miss the season, or fight through the pain?”

McKillop, Curry, his father Dell Curry, a Davidson athletic trainer and Davidson seniors Jason Richard and Thomas Sander sat along the baseline. Curry’s wrist was causing him obvious pain every day. They all knew that.

“If he had surgery,” McKillop said, “he probably would have redshirted and lost the year. But no one would have blamed him. He was going to be a pro, and he needed to make the right choice. But Steph looked at Jason and Thomas and said: ‘This is your senior year. I’m not going to let you guys down.’

“And so,” McKillop continued, “every day, Steph taped up that wrist and played through the pain. It reverberated through our program just how tough and team-oriented he was. He played with pain his whole sophomore year. And that was the year we went to the Elite Eight.”

The story had a second happy ending, too. Curry’s wrist eventually healed on his own. By midseason, he didn’t have to tape it anymore. And he didn’t need wrist surgery after the season, either.

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