The report—alright, my report—that Warriors guard Stephen Curry had passed the concussion protocol test but was still suffering headaches and therefore could not play Friday versus the Lakers confused some people.
How could a player pass the test yet still be suffering headaches? Fair question. The answer: The test involves nothing more than memory, according to Lakers center Chris Kaman, who suffered a concussion last season and has first-hand experience with the test.
Every NBA player undergoes a concussion protocol test before the season that utilizes a basic deck of playing cards. "Including a joker," Kaman said. The questions vary from identifying previous cards—was it a jack of diamonds? Have you seen the two of clubs?—to how many consecutive red or black cards were shown.
This establishes their baseline memorization capabilities. When a player then suffers a concussion, he is put through the same test to determine just how much of his memory has been affected. Curry met the requirements when he went through the test before Friday's game against the Lakers. He was subsequently cleared for Saturday night's contest against the Blazers.
However, Curry admitted to the doctors that he did so despite a headache. That, ultimately, is why he was not allowed to play. "It came back to bite me," said Curry about his honesty. He apparently passed the other physical tests as well, such as ability to track an object. Kaman said he had a similar experience.
He could pass the various tests but still suffered headaches, along with neck pain, for several weeks.