Many cheered and rejoiced among the NBA to hear Golden State Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson name called before the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. One of the biggest roars ever from the Chase Center’s crowd was 941 days in the making. Thompson has been robbed of two years and some change of basketball due to Achilles and ACL injury. This absence tested his mental and physical abilities, however, in his season debut he recorded 17 points in just 20 minutes.
Klay Thompson made a triumphant return to the court, scoring 17 PTS in the Warriors' win over the Cavs! ☔️ pic.twitter.com/aHV3SwBuox
— NBA UK (@NBAUK) January 10, 2022
Thompson’s return and the debut of the 2021 season for the Golden State Warriors was one to remember. He was welcomed with a hero’s welcome.
“I will never forget the reception that Warriors fans gave us, especially myself,” Thompson said. “Gosh it was fun and it was worth every single day of being away and in that squat rack or on that shuttle board and all the conditioning days. It was worth every single moment.
“I am not going to say equivalent to winning a championship,” Thompson added of what this night felt like. “But man, it was pretty freaking close.”
Thompson’s last game prior to his return for the Golden State Warriors
The last time Thompson suited up was against the Toronto Raptors in the NBA Finals. He started off rusty, missing a few shots he normally makes. However, he began to find his range when he got hot and hit three straight shots in a short spurt. Thompson was able to score seven points in the third quarter.
One would think, after missing 177 straight games, any shooter would be hesitant to shoot. Thompson did not shy away from pulling the trigger, somehow, managing to shoot the ball 18 times in 20 minutes.
“That is so Klay Thompson,” Stephen Curry deadpanned.
Thompson wasn’t as efficient as he normally is. He shot three for eight from three-point land, however, he scored his 12,000th career point and made his 1,800th three-pointer. The biggest takeaway of the night seems to be when Thompson took off past Jarrett Allen and dunked on Lauri Markkanen and Dylan Windler towards the end of the first half.
That dunk proved Thomspon is still someone to watch out for. He showed the explosiveness he once had still remained and he’s ready to show it off.
“I’m going to remember that dunk,” Golden State center Kevon Looney said. “The whole time here when Klay had perfect knees and Achilles, I don’t remember him dunking like that.”
It’s more than just a game
Thompson scored within his first 40 seconds in the game to score his first basket.
“After that went in, I thought it might be one of those nights where I might be unconscious,” Thompson said.
“I will never forget the reception that Warriors fans gave us, especially myself. Gosh, it was fun and it was worth every single day of being away and in that squat rack or on that shuttle board and all the conditioning days. It was worth every single moment.”
Thompson emphasized that Sunday’s return meant more for his mental state than a physical state. The battle of being locked out of something you love due to injury can be a toll mentally on one’s body.
“To know that I can still do that [dunk] and being able to just get to my spots and rise up and shoot?” Thompson said. “It’s only up from here.”
Thompson waved cheering fans and clapped along with them in praise of this long day coming. Almost like a wrestler or boxer entering a ring before an anticipated match. He slowly began to get into his shooting routine and fans roared as he made each one of his shots.
“I got to feel that energy when he got out there,” Curry said. “The first four shots he made, I had to catch myself. It felt like the game. Everybody was going nuts.”
“I’m just so happy right now,” Thompson said. “I did not shoot as well as I wanted to, but I am just so happy that I can even look at the stat sheet and see my name there and all the stats again.”