Against all odds, the Golden State Warriors are back in the NBA Finals for the sixth time in the last eight years. And, once again, it was “close-out” Klay Thompson who led the way to the club’s elimination win over Luka Doncic and Co. on Thursday.
In 37 minutes of action, the five-time All-Star scored a game-high 32 points while dropping eight three-point bombs on the Mavs. After the contest, though, Thompson was more concerned with the triples he didn’t get than the many he had amassed.
“I mean, I should’ve had 10 threes,” Thompson told TNT’s Ernie Johnson. “I left like three on the board tonight.”
While the declaration was incredibly on-brand for Thompson — who has also developed a penchant for folding and throwing paper airplanes during his postgame media availability — he couldn’t help but get emotional when discussing the Dubs’ return trip to the Finals in the context of his personal comeback story.
Thompson Gets Real
While he was cracking jokes in the immediate aftermath of Golden State’s Game 5 win over Dallas, Thompson found himself feeling the moment later in the night while recounting his journey back from both a torn ACL and a ruptured Achilles tendon.
“Just such a surreal feeling,” Thompson said, via NBC Sports Bay Area. “It’s hard to put into words really. This time last year, I was just starting to jog again and get up and down the court. Now to be feeling like myself, feeling explosive, feeling sure in my movements, I’m just grateful.
“All those emotions kind of rushed through me,” he added. “I thought about our training staff… I thought about those days me and [sports medicine and performance specialist Rick Celebrini] were together in Santa Cruz and I was in a terrible mood. We were together in the summertime. All those long days.”
Those long days were worth it in the end. Thompson has averaged 19.8 points and 4.3 boards and shot 39.9% from deep through 16 postseason appearances. And the Warriors figure to be the title favorites, regardless of whether they have to go through Miami or Boston to take home the trophy.
“They would tell me it would pay off. It was hard to see that at the time. Now to actually be here, I can feel it paying off.”
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Kerr & Wiggins Chime In
Thompson wasn’t the only one taken aback by his Finals return. For their part, All-Star wing Andrew Wiggins and head coach Steve Kerr were similarly enthralled by the baller’s big comeback.
“It’s hard not to be most excited for Klay, given what he’s been through,” Kerr confessed. “The two-year absence, the fight that he’s been through to get back to this point. Just an incredible accomplishment for him. For him to be a part of it, he’s so happy again. It’s wonderful to see.”
Added Wiggins: “He had a hard two years, but he stayed positive, stayed with it. Now he’s shining on the brightest stage. So, I’m happy for him.”