Klay Thompson Returns to the Court for the Warriors

Marco Garibaldi, Reporter And Editor

On June 13, 2019, in game 6 of the finals against the Toronto Raptors, Klay Thompson tore the ACL in his left knee. After rehabbing for a year during the pandemic he suffered another season ending injury after rupturing his right achilles tendon in November of 2020. 

On Sunday January 9, 2022, or better known as “Klay Day”, Klay Thompson made his long-awaited return to the basketball court after being out 941 days and missing 175 games. 

Earlier in the NBA season it had been rumored that Klay would return on Christmas day to play against the Phoenix Suns. A few months down the road and it was rumored he would make his return within the first few weeks of January. Warriors fans from all around were excited to see Klay Thompson back on the basketball court. “Once Klay Thompson returns assuming health, you know we’re not debating health, there’s nothing to debate about that, if they’re not healthy there’s no go, but if Klay Thompson and Steph Curry are on the court together and healthy, the Warriors are going to the conference finals at the very least. The Warriors are going to win 50 games at the very least.” -Stephen A. Smith (First Take)

But why all the hype around one basketball player? Well, Klay Thompson has been known as the best catch-and-shoot shooter of all time and is a 3-time NBA champion, a 5-time All Star and has made the playoffs 7 times. He has also made the All-Rookie first team, All-NBA third team twice and made the All-Defensive second team. One of the most remarkable records he set was when he scored 37 points in one quarter, the most in NBA history, and set the NBA record for most threes in a game with 14. To add to that he also had a 60 point game in 3 quarters. So fans have a reason to be excited for his long awaited return.

Over the past two and a half years Klay has been sitting out and rehabbing after two serious injuries. For the past few years Klay has been through physical pain, mental anguish and relentless rehab, fighting to get back on the basketball court and play the game he loves. “When you do get in those dark places you tend to isolate yourself, at least I do. Lean on the people that love you the most, that’s what really got me through it.” (Klay Thompson) 

Over the past few years we’ve seen other parts of Klay that we have never seen before. We’ve seen “reporter” Klay in late 2019 and saw him interact with fans watching the game at home and live at Chase Center. We have also seen “social media” Klay, posting videos of himself and fellow teammate, young rookie, James Wiseman on his boat in the ocean. Through this two year intermission we have seen Klay expand to more than just a basketball player and have seen him enjoy life outside of basketball.

In the first week of January the Warriors announced on their Twitter and Instagram pages that Klay Thompson would be making his official return on January 9th against the Cavaliers. Steve Kerr, the Warriors head coach, had already made it clear that Klay would start but have limited minutes, about 20 to 25 minutes or so. Klay Thomspon warmed up like it was a normal game and shot free throws and 3 pointers. Before the game started they did the traditional player introductions for the starters. They announced Kevon Looney, Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins, and Steph Curry. But they saved Klay Thompson for last. “He’s back… And now is his eleventh season out of Washington State University, number eleven, Klay Thompson!” yelled the Warriors announcer. 

It was confirmed that Draymond Green would not be playing on Klay’s return because of a calf strain but he wanted to start so he could be a part of Klay’s return game. As soon as the Cavs won the tip, Draymond intentionally fouled so that he could sit the game and shortly after Juan Toscano-Anderson subbed in to take his place. On the Warriors first offensive possession of the game Andrew Wiggins came off a screen from Juan Toscano-Anderson. Immediately after Juan runs over to Klay and sets a down screen for him. Klay comes off the screen and catches the ball, dribbles to the basket and scores the tough layup over two defenders. Finally, Klay made his first basket in Chase Center and in front of the fans. The Warriors ended up beating the Cavaliers 96 to 82. Klay finished with an impressive 17 points, 1 assist, 3 rebounds and shot 3 of 8 from distance in a limited 20 minutes on the court. He also had a plus/minus rating of -2. 

Though it wasn’t a perfect performance by any means, Klay showed he could contribute solid lockdown perimeter defense on the defensive end and a near 40% 3 point shot  as well as the ability to attack the basket and draw fouls. Klay Day gave fans and analysts across the country hope for the playoffs later this season and maybe even a hidden preview of what June will look like.