The last two years have provided Klay Thompson with a treasure trove of disappointment to dwell or draw on, should he desire. And if he did, who could blame him?
A torn ACL that arguably cost the Golden State Warriors a fourth NBA Championship in five years. An Achilles’ tendon rupture just as he was nearing the end of a long and painful road to rehabilitation. Two lost seasons of memories and moments, statistics and star turns that have stolen at least some of Thompson’s lasting legacy out from under him.
Admirably, the Dubs’ All-Star shooting guard has refused to let unbelievably bad fortune control his narrative. Positivity and the promise of the future — namely a return to the Warriors’ greatness of not so long ago, perhaps as soon as this season — have defined Thompson as he inches ever closer back to the basketball court.
Thompson Reveals Slight That Still Stings Years Later
But one thing — one slight from just weeks before the injury he suffered in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals that altered Thompson’s career trajectory forever — still sticks in his craw years later.
He shared that snub, and his feelings about it, with the “Dubs Talk” podcast featuring Kerith Burke, Kendra Andrews and Grant Liffman at Warriors Media Day on September 27. The exclusive interview was released on Tuesday, October 12.
“I’ve been feeling that way, whether it’s being the third wheel, the fourth option, the fifth option, not making All-NBA, which still kills me to this day, especially for our playoff performances,” Thompson said after he was asked if he felt he had something to prove upon his return to NBA action. “I’ve come to realize the All-NBA season voting is a regular-season award, so I’m not too bothered anymore.”
“I always have a chip on my shoulder,” Thompson continued. “It’s not that I want recognition, but I want to have a long list of career achievements and enter the Hall of Fame as one of the all-time greats.”
Burke went on to ask Thompson to describe the last two seasons under the weight of the two catastrophic injuries he suffered.
“Heartbreak,” Thompson responded. “But you got two options, it’s either fight or flight. And I’m fighting all day.”
Thompson’s Stand-in Stands Out During Preseason
Thompson will not be available when the Warriors open their 2021-22 regular season on the road Tuesday, October 19 against the Los Angeles Lakers. Team brass has set expectations as to Thompson’s return for around Christmas, at the earliest, and potentially not until sometime during the next calendar year.
However, Thompson’s absence has opened up a spot in the starting lineup and, in turn, helped give rise to guard Jordan Poole. The third-year perimeter player has stood out as Thompson’s stand-in, and looks to be the favorite to keep Thompson’s place alongside Steph Curry warm while five-time NBA All-Star puts the final touches on his comeback.
Poole averaged 12 points per game for the Warriors last season, making 51 appearances including 7 starts, according to Basketball Reference. He was particularly good during a stretch run that saw the injury-depleted Dubs fall just an overtime period short of qualifying for the NBA’s Western Conference Playoffs.
During the preseason, Poole has set himself apart from the competition for a temporary starting role in Thompson’s stead, averaging 25 points per game through three contests, per NBA.com.