DAR Sports: The Return Of Klay Thompson




Imagine being away from something you love for one year. Just imagine. It would crush you, wouldn't it? Imagine being away from something you love for one year, then being THIS close to having it again, only for it to be taken away AGAIN. It would crush you, wouldn't it? Imagine having to go on a journey to get back to what you love, what you live for, getting this close and unfortunate circumstances led to it going away for yet another year. Pain. As I write this, I realize I have a close personal experience that relates to this, and just the thought of that illicits emotion that came from that time. Life has never been fair, tragedy and unseen occurrences come when we least expect them, and from a mental standpoint, the strength it takes to come back from getting knocked down not once, but twice, is immeasurable. Often times, we tend to look at things from the perspective of "temporary setbacks", but the reality is, a temporary setback can have a long lasting permanent effect. There are physical and mental "temporary setbacks" that can stick with you forever, and we have seen the effects of that manifest over time. While many praise the journey to get back to a place of comfort and sustained happiness, it's always the moments you don't see or hear that are the toughest. When you're working to return from a setback, no matter how large or small it is, you count the days, the minutes, the seconds, just yearning for your chance to feel like YOU again. When that moment approaches that you KNOW you've come back from what hindered you prior, it is a moment that can register as heavy, overwhelming, because you feel like you won. You won against the setbacks, you've done the impossible, you've pulled it off. There's nothing like feeling like you're back after you lost a piece of yourself or what you love. Especially after 941 days. 

941 days. That's the last time the world saw Klay Thompson compete in the world of basketball. The last time he played in a NBA game, in the NBA Finals. The world was much different in June 2019. We weren't navigating (poorly I might add) a pandemic, Chris Paul and James Harden were still teammates, Kawhi Leonard was a Toronto Raptor, Kemba Walker was relevant and a Charlotte Hornet, Kyrie was a Boston Celtic, movie theaters were still packed, and life at the time seemed.... normal. Little did we know, nothing would be the same. That summer of 2019 was the last "normal" summer we've had and while many of us were outside during the summer of 2021, it was anything but normal. 941 days is something. Imagine thinking back 941 days from June 2019, back to late 2016/early 2017. It seems like such a long time in essence doesn't it? The world can change so much in an instant, sometimes in just a day. For the Golden State Warriors and Klay Thompson, their world changed during Game 6 of the 2019 Finals. Injuries happen all the time in sports, and as unfortunate as they are, many athletes will tell you that it is sadly just a part of the game. Still, it doesn't change the impact, physically and mentally. The fight to get back, the anguish, the self-doubt, it all seems to come at different times in injury rehab. When you're nearing the end of the rehab road, so many emotions can flow, and for Klay, we've seen this manifest in so many ways. From the moment he was in tears watching games last year to him being on the bench for extended periods this season to the fans chanting for him, it has surely been a rollercoaster and a wave for him. One can only imagine how Klay feels currently preparing for his first game back. Perhaps by the time you read this, he will have already been on the court, scored however many points, hit however many threes, and that's fine. If you're reading this later on down the line, I hope that your appreciation for Klay and what he brings to the game is well in tact. 

I didn't want to spend this article going down memory lane too much, because we're in the now. Often times, we look back at what used to be, what was, and not what is now. Sure, we can talk all day about Klay's Game 6 prowess in 2016 and 2018 playoffs, putting up 37 points in a quarter, 60 points in 29 minutes on minimal dribbles, hitting 14 threes in a single game, as well as many other epic Splash Brother moments in the league. Klay has given the league so many great moments that its hard to find anyone who doesn't appreciate or like him, but those moments are well documented. Now, the time is here for Klay to give us more moments, set basketball on fire again, and remind us of who he is, but also show us an entirely new Klay Thompson. With age comes maturity, higher basketball IQ, precise decision making. The Steph Curry of 2016 is not the same Steph Curry of 2022. The differences are small, but they are evident. The Draymond Green of 2016 is not the Draymond Green of 2022, but once again, the differences are small. The Klay Thompson of 2022 might not be the Klay Thompson of 2016 or 2019, and that's fine. People grow, people improve, people change, and injuries aside, it is only right for someone as good as Klay Thompson to be able to adapt to circumstance. What Klay Thompson will we see this season? No one knows, but what we do know is that his return is a long time coming and we're glad to see him back. The return of Klay has the world buzzing, including some of our own here at DAR. Let's read some thoughts from the team and how important Klay's return is to them and the basketball world. 



@Peagle05 

(Of Eclispe Theory)

It’s been two long years but finally we will get to see Klay Thompson back on the court for the Warriors doing what he does best, locking his man up and bombing from 3. I don’t think there’s gonna be a more exciting moment than that first Klay Katch and Shoot from deep. The Chase Center is gonna EXPLODE. It’s gonna be an incredible moment because we all know how devastating this has been for Klay. To sit out and have to watch for a year was bad enough, but to be so close to returning and to have a second catastrophic injury to further push it back was just crushing. There’s no more fun team to watch in the league than the Warriors when both Steph and Klay have it going or when they don’t and we’re all just waiting for it to happen. But this return is more than just a feel good moment. This is the moment the Warriors become whole. Dray has looked like his old self this year and despite a recent slump, the Chef is right around that time of year where he starts rounding into form. This is the point where the rest of the league tends to slow up and Steph with his God tier conditioning, starts to ramp up. Add to that the continued growth of Jordan Poole, the bench mob playing like an angry mob and Andrew Wiggins putting together the best year of his career. The Warriors have been the best team in the league. They’ve been the best defense in the league. They’ve just been missing that last piece and because of the emergence of the rest of the team as a whole, Klay has the space to get himself fully into form without worrying about throwing the team off…and that is a scary thought. Adding Klay to this is like putting the last stone in the Infinity Gauntlet. And Thanos Curry is about to get to snapping. 

*Jeff Axel (@unstoppableAx)

941 days is an extremely long time, especially in the NBA world. Last time we saw Klay Thompson was in the NBA finals dunking the ball and tearing his ACL in the process and then during recovery, he tore his Achilles. The entire landscape of the NBA has changed since then including former teammate Kevin Durant entering his 3rd season as a Brooklyn Net. Also the rise of Giannis, Jokic and other young players have elevated things to make their teams legitimate threats. Klay Thompson is one of the best catch and shoot players in NBA history and when he and Steph Curry are shooting lights out from 3 at the same time, it’s enjoyable to watch. I definitely miss those moments where Klay is unconsious from 3 and makes them repeatedly. The 14 threes game against the Bulls was ridiculous, as well as getting 60 points off of 11 dribbles the entire game against the Pacers. That's truly unheard of, especially since it was in 29 minutes of action. You can't forget the 37 points he scored against the Kings in 1 quarter, which is just another example of his video game like shooting ability. Game 6 in the 2016 WCF against the Thunder when he took over on the road and finished with 41 points, which helped propelled his team to the finals that season. You also have to appreciate how he turned himself into one of the best wing defenders in the league, taking players completely out of the game at times. I hate that we didn’t get to see a chance of 3 years of prime Klay Thompson but I’m excited to see how he looks against the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight and I’m hoping he scores in double figures in his return. 

*Shawn Don (@theshawndon15)

With the return of Klay coming, I think it’s time we talk about his legacy with the Golden State Warriors. The thing that makes Klay so great to the Warriors is he doesn’t need the ball in his hands to make an impact. His ability to score in the fewest amount of dribbles possible makes him the perfect 2nd option to Steph and also makes him a deadlier offensive player than Steph when he’s hot. Examples of this, are the 37 point quarter against the Kings and Game 6 of the 2016 Western Conference Finals vs OKC. Klay also has been shown to be able to lead the team to playoff victories as the no. 1 option (2016 being that year). Defensively, he’s been one of the best perimeter defenders in the game and despite the lack of consistent All NBA Defensive 1st or 2nd team selections, he’s probably one of if not the best on ball defender at the SG position. All of the little things that he does alongside Steph is what transformed the Warriors from a laughing stock to a dynasty. 

Hopefully now that Klay is back the fans will be able to appreciate what we have while we have it.  


Conclusion

(By True God)

There's no telling what Klay Thompson will look like when he's back on the court. Typically, an ACL and Achillies injury would spell career death for many players, but modern medicine and the improved technology has made it to where players can come back from them. Zach Lavine came back from a torn ACL and is one of the most dynamic scorers and players currently on the best team in the East. Kevin Durant came back from a torn Achilles and is leading the league in scoring. How fitting would it be for Klay Thompson to come back from two of the worst injuries an athlete can suffer and look like he hasn't a missed a beat? While it's expected that Klay will only play around 20 minutes starting out in his first few games back, just imagine what things will look like come March or April when he's had the chance to get comfortable again on the court in real games. The world has been waiting for 2 and a half years to welcome the Splash Brother back to the world of basketball and I'm sure that as the clock inches closer to that moment, the emotion, the nerves, and that excitement is flowing through Klay right now. It's been a long journey, one full of ups and downs, but every journey leads you to where you are supposed to be. For Klay Thompson, where he is supposed to be is on that court, next to his brothers, draining threes and winning. The time is now and the stars have aligned. Welcome back Klay. 

-DAR

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