As the NBA finals approach this month between the Golden State Warriors and the Boston Celtics, several players have emerged as a catalyst for their team’s success. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and Al Horford for the Celtics have consistently stepped up their play, especially against the top-rated Miami Heat. For Golden State, familiar names such as Steph Curry and Draymond Green, as well as newcomers Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole, have brought a sense of dominance to the game. But the one guy that exemplifies a warrior’s heart, no pun intended, is Golden State’s Klay Thompson. Klay is known as one of the “Splash Brothers” along with Curry, for their ability to rain down 3-pointers.
A five-time NBA All-Star, Klay’s prominence as a player was on par with Steph Curry, when you mentioned one, you also talked about the other as well. The Warriors had dominated the league having won Championships in 2015, 2017, and 2018, and Thompson was dominating as a shooting guard. In 2019, the Warriors had made it to the NBA finals playing the Toronto Raptors for the championship.
During game six in the series, Klay was having another breakout effort with scoring 30 points in just three periods. However, midway through the quarter, Thompson went down with a torn ACL. Devastated, Klay faced surgery with the possibility that he may not return to top form or worse not being able to play at all.
During his rehabilitation, the months seemed like years as one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history was sidelined, unable to contribute to his team. But just as he dedicated the hard work in his game preparation, he applied that same energy toward strengthening his knee. In the interim, the Golden State Warriors struggled without him. Steph Curry raised his game, but without Klay the effort was futile.
Thompson missed the entire 2019-20 season, however, he returned to practice with the team in September of 2020. In November that same year during a pickup game in Los Angeles, he tore his Achilles tendon and would again be sidelined for the entire 2020-21 season. Frustrated, Klay once more gave it his all to return to the team and with the surgery and rehab behind him, he made his comeback in January of 2022. The Warriors chose to bring Klay back slowly, with him averaging 15 to 20 minutes per game before giving him the green light to again become a starter. Shortly thereafter in a game against the Lakers, he scored 33 points and the Splash Brothers were back in business. The Warriors once again became a dominant force in the Western Conference of the NBA and were crowned as Champions of the West after defeating the Dallas Mavericks.
As an athlete, I am aware of what it takes to come back after a devastating injury. Athletes get injured and go through the process of healing, but the heart of that person makes all the difference. You’re driven with the need to return to form, and you challenge yourself to endure the pain. I admire Klay’s determination to return and contribute to the success of the Warriors. Golden State is once again playing for the League Championship against the Boston Celtics and Klay Thompson has a lot to do with it. He plays with a Warrior’s heart and win or lose, he has a great deal to be proud of.