The Warriors on Thursday got a glimpse of the nightmare lurking in the back of their collective minds.
Andrew Bogut, forced back to the sideline.
The team they've so carefully assembled, at considerable risk, forced to adjust to the indefinite loss of arguably its most valuable asset.
And, naturally, a sizable contingent of second-guessers shaking their heads and raising their voices.
They all fondly remember Monta Ellis, and those who wailed in protest of the trade that sent him to Milwaukee for Bogut now have plenty of ammunition to make a powerful argument.
Powerful, but hardly persuasive enough to regret that March 13 trade with Milwaukee.
The news that Bogut's left ankle will keep him out of the lineup for "a week to 10 days'' is the team's greatest fear and undoubtedly blurs the vision for the immediate future. Ten days might be optimistic. Three weeks might be more like it.
If I'm the Warriors, I'll take that. If I'm coach Mark Jackson or general manager Bob Myers or owner Joe Lacob, I'll take Bogut averaging 25 minutes in 65 games over Ellis averaging 35 in 80. None of these three men, to be sure, have any misgivings.
Five games into the season, we've seen enough of the 7-foot center to comprehend the potential of his value, enough to convince some skeptics of the trade that a healthy Bogut is making the Warriors better than they were before his arrival.
That's true, in spades.
There is no reason, not yet, maybe never, to regret making that trade with Milwaukee last March. Quite simply, the Warriors had more reasons to trade Monta than they had reasons to acquire Bogut.
Ellis was the undisputed leader of a deeply flawed Warriors team, a roster that was going nowhere as long as he was its best player. He was a terrific offensive force, Allen Iverson Lite, but not in great demand on the open market.
Monta set the tone in the locker room, dictated the tempo on the court. The chemistry was inconsistent. When Ellis was hot, it was good. When he wasn't, it was awful.
The locker room was tense and fragmented, with conflicts spoken and unspoken, as well as passive-aggressive relationships. It was a place, in short, where young men gathered because they were on the same team.
Much has changed, most of it positive, nearly all of it predictable. The court and the locker room are places where you can feel a sense of brotherhood.
Under tri-captains Stephen Curry, David Lee and Bogut, the Warriors locker room is a far more pleasant and relaxed place. The vibe is positive, a product of the energy brought by veterans such as Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack, as well as ebullient rookies Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green.
The double standard so prevalent when Ellis was on the roster — he was the designated "star'' — has faded away.
The Warriors-Bucks trade, when you break it down, was no more about adding Bogut than it was about shedding Ellis. It was about adding a player who, if healthy, would make the Warriors better while losing a guy who, regardless of health, was not going to take them to a higher level.
Bogut's ankle was the X-factor. The conventional wisdom was that a healthy Bogut means the Warriors won the trade, while a frequently sidelined Bogut means they lost it.
With 77 games remaining in the season, it's much too early to draw conclusions.
Jackson says sending Bogut to the sideline does not mean there has been "a setback.'' No, it's a setback. But it's not fatal.
One of the reasons the Warriors signed Landry was to be prepared for the possibility that Bogut's recovery would require substantial maintenance and likely would include periods when he simply needed to stay off his feet.
Remember, Bogut was cleared for full practice less than two weeks ago.
Jackson has consistently stated he would remain "true to the process,'' meaning he would rely on the advice of trainers, the medical staff and Dr. Richard Ferkel, the surgeon who twice performed procedures on Bogut and conducts periodic exams.
Considering the investment, it's only wise to operate carefully.
Meanwhile, the Warriors have to do all they can to help Bogut maintain his mental edge. He's frustrated, even cranky, because he's not getting to 100 percent at a desirable rate. He wants to play more than 15-20 minutes, even though that's the prudent plan.
While this news is cause for Warriors and their fans to hold their breath, it's no reason to sound alarms, nor does it rationalize wishing they'd go back to being what they were: Irrelevant, constantly in search of size and going nowhere in today's NBA.
Contact Monte Poole at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andrew Bogut, then starting for the Milwaukee Bucks, fractures his left ankle in the first quarter at Houston.
Bogut had a CT scan on his left ankle that revealed his fractured was healing properly and surgery was not needed.
"Bogut will be allowed to progress to the next stage of his rehabilitation program, and will undergo an additional scan in approximately one month. The initial recovery period of 8-to-12 weeks has not changed." -- Bucks GM John Hammond said in a release.
The Warriors acquire Bogut, along with Stephen Jackson, in an exchange for guard Monta Ellis and forward Ekpe Udoh
Bogut undergoes arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle, performed by Dr. Richard Ferkel in Van Nuys. The Warriors announce Bogut will be out three months.
"This just puts us in a position where he can report to camp without issue," then-general manager Larry Riley said.
Bogut is examined by Dr. Ferkel. The timing of this examination means Bogut won't play any preseason games as hoped.
Bogut participates in practice without limitations for the first time. Warriors new GM Bob Myers said Bogut's return to Ferkel was in line with Bogut's request: that he not return to action for six months after the surgery.
In the season-opener at Phoenix, Bogut returns to NBA action for the first time 10 months. He plays 19 minutes, zero in the fourth quarter. Coach Mark Jackson reveals Bogut is on a 20-minute limit and can't play back-to-backs.
The Warriors announce, after four games, Bogut will be shut down for 7 to 10 days.