Report: The Warriors survived a meningitis scare that threatened the dynasty
David West finally offered a partial explanation for his cryptic comments about team dynamics following the Golden State Warriors’ third championship win in four years, revealing to The Athletic’s Sam Amick that the team faced a meningitis scare that threatened the dynasty late last season.
Following his team’s title victory this past June, West hinted to reporters in the locker room that they would be “shocked” to learn the level of adversity the Warriors faced during their 2017-18 campaign.
“Y’all got no clue. No clue. That tells you about this team that nothing came out,” West revealed then, via ESPN’s Marc J. Spears. He added, via The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson II, “We’re so tight, people don’t even know what we went through. They trying to find out. We don’t have suckas on this team.”
Those comments led to widespread speculation about strained relationships inside the organization, a narrative that seemed relevant when a bitter dispute between Warriors teammates Kevin Durant and Draymond Green carried over from a game into the locker room earlier this month. Even some Warriors staff members seem confused by West’s comments, suggesting West was trolling the media.
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While West conceded to Amick that team dynamics, including “the occasional frustration and fatigue” of chasing titles year after year, played a role in his post-championship comments, it was a meningitis scare that reached its peak between games on March 11 and 14 of last season that led to the remarks.
According to sources with knowledge of the situation, the Warriors dealt with a team-wide meningitis scare in mid-March that was the root of West’s infamous comments. An outside vendor who handled the team’s food on a daily basis contracted a contagious form of the disease, then survived a life-threatening challenge before eventually returning to work with the team.
“It was just a serious health scare where, for me, it’s just something like, ‘Wow,’” West said. “That was in my mind at the time (of his post-Finals quotes).
“It was the entire team (who was affected). It was crazy. It was the heart of the season. It was something that, again, it showed the strength of the organization (that they got through it to win the title).”
Starting March 9, the Warriors lost 10 of their final 17 games, falling behind the Houston Rockets for the West’s No. 1 seed — a development that nearly contributed to their downfall in the conference finals. It is impossible to measure what role the meningitis scare played, especially since Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson missed significant chunks of that stretch due to unrelated injuries.
The team brought in doctors to educate the Warriors on meningitis and reassure them that their chances of contracting the infection were low, according to Amick, but that apparently did not curb their fears completely. Most players and staff members received vaccination shots as a precaution, and the Warriors also reportedly closed the team’s practice facility and dining room to sanitize both.
Meningitis comes in many forms, including both viral and bacterial, all of which may involve inflammation around the brain and spinal cord that can be life-threatening. It is unclear which form of the infection the vendor contracted and to what extent West’s teammates were impacted by the scare.
JaVale McGee, for example, informed Amick:
“I grew up in the hood,” JaVale McGee, the former Warriors center who is now with the Lakers, told The Athletic. “Meningitis isn’t something I’m scared of.”
Still, it is remarkable that something so frightening threatened one of the greatest teams in NBA history. That is a terrifying what-if everyone should be glad never came to fruition. And, of course, it is beyond refreshing to hear that the vendor whose condition led to the scare survived the affliction.
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