CHICAGO - The sight of Jamal Murray writhing in pain while clutching his left knee was difficult to watch especially for us Chicago Bulls fans here in the Windy City.
The injury, which occurred in the final 50.6 seconds of Denver's 116-107 loss to the Golden State Warriors, had eerie similarities to the ACL tear that forever changed the career of Derrick Rose.
Like Rose's agony last April 28, 2012 at the United Center, Murray's fall was also "noncontact." And just like Derrick that year, Jamal had been dealing with several injuries this season, per The Denver Post.
Unlike D-Rose, Murray's game doesn't require tons of aerial acrobatics that often finish off with hard landings.
But the Nuggets star's moves - quick stops on a dime, abrupt step-back jumpers and shifting directions at full speed - also inflict a lot of violence on his knees.
Although nothing is "definitive" yet pending the results of an MRI, the general consensus is that this mishap was bad.
IT'S LIKE PORN, YOU KNOW IT WHEN YOU SEE IT.
"Just an awful feeling. Keep Jamal in your thoughts, and prayers, and hopefully we will get some good news," Nuggets head coach Mike Malone told reporters in a post-game presser.
The sight of Murray being helped by two Nuggets staffers off the floor in San Francisco while unable to bear weight on his left leg overshadowed an otherwise glorious night in the NBA where Steph Curry passed Wilt Chamberlain in the Warriors' all-time scoring list.
In achieving the milestone, the two-time league MVP and three-time NBA champ sizzled for 53 points. He knocked down 14 of 24 field goals, including 10 of 18 from 3.
With their second straight win, the Warriors stayed in the hunt for a spot in the play-in tournament as they remained at 10th place in the Western Conference with a 26-28 record.
Despite losing two in a row, the Nuggets are still ranked fourth in the West with a robust 34-20 slate.
But their immediate future, let alone their burgeoning championship hopes, are very much up in the foggy air.
After the shock wears off, Denver must somehow process the thought that their leader and All-Star point guard may miss a significant chunk of time, and hopefully, not the entire season altogether.
What is known is that Murray's potential exit leaves Denver with a void of 21.1 points, 4.8 assists and four rebounds a game.
What is unknown is who will slip into the No. 1 spot and replenish some of Murray's tangible contributions.
Monte Morris, a third-year guard from Iowa State who is averaging 10.4 points and 3.3 assists this season, is likely going to get the call. He won't dazzle like Murray but he is steady (just 0.8 turnovers per game) and he can nail the 3 at a 38 percent rate.
Facundo Campazzo, a 30-year old whirling dervish from Argentina will see his minutes rise as a back-up for Morris. Although not a terrific shooter (38.5 percent from the field), he is an above average playmaker who whips 2.8 assists per despite his limited playing time.
A team's championship fate is so fickle, sometimes it hinges only on one unfortunate play. We've seen it ravage the Los Angeles Lakers and we are about to see it haunt the Nuggets.
So sad yet so much a part of the game. There's no crying in basketball.