CHICAGO - Back in my day, when an NBA player's health status was up in the air, he was ruled either "day-to-day"" or "a game time decision."
The simplicity was endearing.
These days, semantics has muddled the injury report. So when a player is hurt, his status fluctuates from "doubtful" to "questionable" to "probable." Understanding the difference can be as vague as defining what is signal No.1 and signal No.2 in a tropical storm.
Thank God for the Wall Street Journal for untangling the thick web of adjectives by reporting that "doubtful means at least 75 percent chance the player sits; questionable means 50-50, and probable means it's a virtual certainty he'll play."
Some 18 hours ago The San Jose Mercury News said Andre Iguodala, who has been sidelined the last two weeks with a left leg contusion, has been upgraded to "questionable" for Game Three of these NBA Finals at the Quicken Loans Arena.
The news is music to the Golden State Warriors' ears. For the Cleveland Cavaliers, stuck in an 0-2 series hole, the announcement of Iguodala's return sounds like a funeral dirge.
In the parlance of today times, if Iguodala's "questionable" reenlistment becomes "probable" the chances of Cleveland winning Game Three turns increasingly "doubtful."
According to multiple reports Iguodala, 33 and a 13-year veteran, participated in "one-on-one games full-court drills" during Monday's practice. Per Rule 3, Section 2 of the NBA rule book, the Warriors have "at least 10 minutes" before Game 3's tip-off to insert Iguodala in the lineup so we won't know until then if he will be in uniform.
But if I were to guess, Iggy is a go.
According to The San Francisco Chronicle, "Warriors players have missed a combined 189 games (162 in the regular season and 27 in the postseason) because of injuries." Steph Curry led the absences roll with 37, Iguodala had 24, Kevin Durant had 14, Draymond Green 12 and Klay Thompson 9..
Ailing bones and all, Golden State endured because of a 26-man contingent of performance therapists headed by Chelsea Lane, the stunning blond sitting behind the Warriors bench who cut her teeth toiling for years in New Zealand's Olympic teams. She and her crew has been doing a amazing job maximizing player's availability. (See Klay Thompson's twisted, swollen ankle in Game One as exhibit A)
LeBron James is having a whale of a Finals so far - 80 points, 17 rebounds and 21 assists. The King has made 29 of 52 field goals and 5-of-11 treys. I get it, he's unstoppable like the flood. But Iguodala provides the sand bags that will minimize the damage.
I have no doubt of LeBron's capacity to drop 50 or more in Game Three, but with Iggy shadowing him mostly, the King will work hard for every shot and exhaust so much energy he'll invite cramps and beg for more rest than usual.
The so-called creature named "LeBron stopper" does not exist. But a "LeBron slower" does. And that's Iguodala, a 6-foot-6, 215-pound freak of nature who is built like an Oak tree and runs like a deer. He can neutralize LeBron's speed and strength. And that is why, per an ESPN stat, James only shoots 45 percent when guarded by Iguodala.
An All-Star and a former NBA Finals MVP, Iguodala's job description extends beyond defend. He is also a capable scorer, a skillful passer and a calming presence on the floor. To measure his impact is impossible, it's like gauging the anger of a volcanic eruption.
According to Las Vegas oddsmakers, the Cavaliers are 4.5 points underdogs in today's Game Three.
And that means, the Warriors' chances of taking a 3-0 lead is "probable" and that a series sweep is definitely no longer "doubtful."