The third anniversary of Klay Thompson’s devastating knee injury is Monday, the day of Game Five of the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Boston Celtics.
Thompson, 32, ruptured an ACL in his left knee on June 13, 2019, during Game 6 of the 2019 Finals against the Toronto Raptors. He ran back onto the field to do a free throw, and this was the last NBA basketball he played in over two years due to the torn achilles he suffered in the fall of 2020.
“I’ve never had such a severe injury before, so I didn’t think it was serious,” Thompson said after training on Sunday, when asked to reflect on this grim memory. “I thought I might have hit something in my knee. But you know, when you’re at the tournament and you’re playing in front of our fans, your adrenaline is so high that you ignore anything that makes sense, and running on a torn ACL makes no sense.”
“I just thought, ‘I don’t want to leave these dots on the board, man,'” he continued. “This is the finals. I’ll get 30 balls. On top of that, I went back and did a little test and came up with the conclusion that I should probably put on some crutches.”
The Warriors and Celtics tied the series with two wins each. Game 5 will take place at 9 p.m. ET on Monday at Chase Center in San Francisco.
Personally for Thompson, this year is his sixth in a row, because he’s been out to rehab their injuries over the past two seasons while the Warriors have, a) worst record in the league in 2020; b) He failed to make the playoffs last season.
The Raptors took over Game 6 to close out Golden State in 2019. Kevin Durant tore Achilles in the Warriors’ Game 5 win, and Thompson lost the match after about a quarter before Toronto won their first championship in Golden State’s Stories final game. Oracle Arena in Auckland.
“It was a really strange time for me because obviously I was devastated because Clay came on the heels of Kevin’s injury,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr. “It just felt like we were eliminated in back-to-back matches, and we were really really emotionally tired at that point five years ago.”
“I also felt so proud of our guys’ efforts, and I almost brought that streak back to Toronto in Game 7. So there was all those feelings, but the dominant factors were the injury to Clay and Kevin. It was so devastating. It’s really hard to see them in pain.”
Thompson averaged 17.4 points in the Finals on 34 percent of the shots from a 3-point range, just under 19.3 points and 39 percent of the shots he gave the Warriors throughout the playoffs. It was his first match since the sixth game of the 2019 Finals on January 9.
“I think it’s three years ago and everything we’ve been through, everything Clay has personally been through since that time, and to be back here, it just adds a sense of gratitude to be back at this point,” Warriors star Stephen Curry said. “This class will always be part of our journey, for sure. That’s something we’ll probably be talking about for a very long time.”
“I hope we can get this mission done and honor that three-year journey that has actually led to something really special,” Carrey continued.
Thompson said he was not aware that Monday was the anniversary of his first injury. Both he and Draymond Green were part of exactly 100 playoffs with the Warriors. Thompson said he might take a moment before game five to think about the day, but “I just want to take the win.”
(Photo: Paul Rutherford/USA Today)