OAKLAND, Calif. -- Dell and Sonya Curry were the first two people I bumped into at Oracle Arena on Tuesday night.
They were standing at a small kiosk inside the lower level of the arena, looking at the work of a photographer who had taken a picture of their son, Steph.
The framed piece featured the Warriors' All-Star guard running up the court, his mouthpiece dangling from his lips, as he smiled and raised a finger in the air. Sonya peered at the photo, scanning a series of smaller images that had been edited in, superimposed across the bottom.
There was a picture of Steph's wife. His mom and dad, too. Some baby photos. Family pictures. She smiled, and nodded, but I couldn't help but notice the glum expression on her husband's face.
Dell Curry looked like a guy who had lost a bet.
"I don't know what I'm going to do here," he said.
As the artist talked with mom, I pulled dad aside. It turns out, a historic Western Conference finals -- the first ever to feature two brothers playing against each other -- has moments in which it feels like a bag of bricks.
Seth, the Blazers' guard, and Steph, with the Warriors, would warm up on the court 30 minutes later. The players do this in waves of two or three as the arena is opening. It struck me as I watched a line of photographers jockey for position on the baseline, capturing every shot of the Golden State guard on one end, that there was nobody was taking Seth's photo on the other.
Not a single camera on him.
Also, while the brothers never spoke in the session, both did glance across the court to watch the other take a warm-up shot.
"It's hard for us," Dell said.
For Steph, Game 1 would mark the 24th time he suited up for a conference finals game. Across the way, it would be Seth's first. And so the Curry parents took a Blazers jersey autographed by Seth, and a Warriors jersey autographed by Steph, and had them customized into a half-and-half jersey.
Then they flipped a coin.
Really, nobody won. Or both did, maybe. Dad wore the Warriors jersey on front and Blazers on the back. Mom did the opposite. And this is how ex-NBA player Dell Curry and his wife of 31 years came to be dressed as they became the most-watched couple in the building on Tuesday night.
Fans stopped them and snapped selfies with them. Photographers dropped by their midcourt seats, halfway between both benches, training a camera on them as they pretended not to notice. Even the television broadcast drifted from a game that waned in interest in the fourth quarter to those two parents, doing the best they could to be impartial in a sport that demands otherwise.
"Who you with?" Steph asked his mom when he saw her in the hallway before the game.
After the game, he remarked how strange it was to look up and see her wearing anything but a Warriors jersey.
"When I made a shot, I saw her stand up and cheer, but I saw all Portland gear," Steph said. "It's just weird. But it's probably more nerve-racking for them to settle into what this series is going to be."
He's got that right.
The Blazers got throttled 116-94 in Game 1. They committed too many turnovers. They played lousy defense. They looked tired coming off a Game 7 against the Nuggets. It was a lot to take in, but my eyes kept drifting to the parents sitting in Section 101, right along the aisle.
They became the early face of this series.
Mom appeared to enjoy the game. She celebrated by jumping up, fists raised in the air, when Seth made his only basket of the night -- a three that cut the Warriors' lead to 75-67 in the third quarter.
She also rolled back in her chair when Steph, who scored 36 points, attempted a behind-the-back pass that resulted in a turnover. She also jumped out of her seat, slapping her hands together, when he made a three-point shot a couple of minutes into the fourth.
I wondered ...
Did mom cheer like that at their youth games?
Did she watch them as closely in the driveway?
Her husband appeared fractured. All night. And it made sense. Dell asked me before that game about my own children. I told him that I have three daughters. And that I wonder sometimes how much better, and more competitive, they might make each other.
He nodded, and then told me a story about having to mediate the 1-on-1 games his sons played.
"They're brothers, who played the same sport," he said. "It's good competitive spirit. But a lot of times I had to go out and settle the battles. It was always good. They were good sports, but they were still playing against each other.
"They did make each other better -- no question."
Game 2 is on Thursday at Oracle Arena. The rest of us are focused on the adjustments that might be made by Portland, and also, whether a good night of sleep is what the Blazers needed most.
I'm more worried about Dell, as the game nearly tore him in half.
There's no clean and easy way out of this series for him. A win is a loss. A loss is a win. One son is moving to within a step of an NBA title, the other is going home. Every parent wants what's best for their children. But what happens when what's best for one is what's worst for the other?
It brings to mind an Olympics wrestling tournament I covered in 2004 in Athens. A Russian wrestler named Batirov Mavlet and his younger brother, Adam, had arrived in the finals of that country's Olympic trials in the same weight class a month earlier. Instead of having them square off on the mat, their father gathered them at the kitchen table and had them talk it out.
There would be no match.
One would forfeit.
Older brother Batirov, they decided, would advance and compete for his country. The younger brother would wait four years and try again. That he failed to get back still sticks with me. But they lived with the result, because the alternative was too painful.
Steph is 31 and Seth is 28. Basketball isn't wrestling. Dell Curry doesn't have the luxury of a kitchen-table settlement, but I'll bet one would have made it easier.
What would you do?
None of this is made easier by the fact that Steph, a two-time MVP, has three world titles. The closest Seth has been to a championship parade is being a guest of his brother, attending last summer's event.
Would it be nice to see both kids win one? Even if it's at the expense of the other?
"We're not rooting for either one wholeheartedly," Dell said. "We're rooting for both to play well, but you can't root for one team over the other.
"It's hard for us. We don't know how we're going to do that without showing favoritism."