The past two years have seen Klay Thompson have a treasure trove of disappointments to fall back on or fall back on when he so wishes. And if so, who could blame him?
A ruptured cruciate ligament that cost the Golden State Warriors a fourth NBA championship in five years. A torn Achilles tendon as he neared the end of a long and painful road to rehabilitation. Two lost seasons of memories and moments, stats and star-turns that stole at least part of Thompson’s enduring legacy from him.
Admirably, the Dubs All-Star Shooting Guard has refused to let unbelievable misfortune control his narrative. Positivity and the promise of the future – namely, a return to the greatness of Warriors from not so long ago, perhaps this season – have defined Thompson as he gets closer and closer to the basketball court.
But one thing – a small thing from just weeks before the injury he sustained in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals that changed Thompson’s career forever – is still in his treasure years later.
He shared this snub and his feelings about it on the Dubs Talk podcast with Kerith Burke, Kendra Andrews and Grant Liffman at Warriors Media Day on September 27th. The exclusive interview was released on Tuesday, October 12th.
“I’ve felt this way whether it’s the third wheel, the fourth option, the fifth option or not All-NBA, which is killing me to this day, especially for our playoff performances,” Thompson said after asking if he felt like he would have to prove something when he returned to the NBA. “I realized that the All-NBA season voting is a regular season prize, so I don’t worry anymore.”
“I always have a chip on my shoulder,” Thompson continued. “I don’t want recognition, but I want to have a long list of career achievements and be inducted into the Hall of Fame as one of the greats.”
Burke went on to ask Thompson to describe the past two seasons under the weight of the two catastrophic injuries he had sustained.
“Heartache,” Thompson replied. “But you have two options, either fight or flight. And I fight all day. “
Thompson will not be available when the Warriors open their 2021-22 regular season on Tuesday October 19 against the Los Angeles Lakers on the street. Team Brass has set expectations for Thompson’s return around Christmas at the earliest and possibly sometime in the next calendar year.
Thompson’s absence, however, opened up a place in the starting XI and in turn helped protect Jordan Poole. The third-year perimeter player has emerged as Thompson’s stand-in and appears to be the favorite to keep Thompson’s seat warm alongside Steph Curry as the five-time NBA All-Star is putting the finishing touches on his comeback.
Poole averaged 12 points per game for the Warriors last season and played 51 games, including 7 starts, according to the Basketball Reference. He did especially well on a stretch run where the injury-ridden dubs fell just one hour of overtime before qualifying for the NBA’s Western Conference Playoffs.
During the preseason, Poole stood out from the competition for a temporary starting role in Thompson’s place, averaging 25 points per game in three competitions, according to NBA.com.