Boston (AFP) – Klay Thompson didn’t stint on the celebrations of his fourth NBA title, one that came in the wake of two devastating injuries that showed the Golden State star just how fragile and NBA career can be.
“Oh, man, I was feeling absolutely incredible,” said Thompson, who danced with teammate Stephen Curry as the trophy was awarded in the wake of their game six victory over the Celtics in Boston.
“I was feeling just so high on life that I did not want to leave the stage, and I just know how hard this is, and to be here for a fourth time, like so grateful for my teammates.”
Thompson’s journey embodied the Warriors’ unlikely return to the summit, after their NBA title runs in 2015, 2017 and 2018.
He returned from a 31-month injury absence in January, and his latest Finals run comes three years after he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in game six of the 2019 NBA Finals.
He was on his way back from that injury when, more than 17 months later, he tore his right Achilles tendon.
“The anguish that Klay has felt over the last three years … people can guess as to what it is like, but we saw it up close,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
“And, you know, between a second year-long injury and losing what he loves to do most in life, you know, playing the game, it’s been a rough go for him.”
But even though he didn’t take the court until the season was almost half over, Thompson said he knew the Warriors could be title contenders again.
“I saw it in the beginning of season,” he said. “People called me crazy. I said championship or bust, because I saw how we came out of the gate, 18-2. And playing just that Warriors brand of basketball that made us so successful, and then knowing I was going to be inserted in that, I knew we had a chance to do something special, and here we are.”
Thompson said his 2019 injury “was easier to accept because I had never been hurt before and that five-year run took a lot out of us.
“But the second time it happened it was like, what the heck is going on, man. Just to stay with it, just calf raise after calf raise, after underwater treadmill, so many days, not even touching a ball.
“Then to go through this season with the ups and downs, and even these playoffs, I’m just at a loss for words at times.
“Because I knew this was possible but to be here in real time, man, I don’t want to leave. I want to enjoy every second of this. I know how fleeting it can be.”
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