Over the course of his more than ten-year stint with the Golden State Warriors, Klay Thompson has participated in some of the most important games in NBA history. He is the only player to have ever scored 60 points in less than 30 minutes of play, and he holds the record for the most points scored in a single quarter with 37. However, neither Thompson’s most illustrious individual performances nor any of the Warriors’ title-clinching triumphs or memorable elimination games qualify as his best contests in his professional career.
In how many of his roughly 800 NBA games does he hold that distinction? The culmination of a trip back to the court that many questioned would ever happen after Thompson tore his ACL and ruptured his Achilles tendon in back-to-back years was his return after two and a half seasons lost to injury on January 9. The 96-82 victory for Golden State over the Cleveland Cavaliers will always hold a special place in Thompson’s heart, but it wasn’t just because of the widespread attention given to his return, the enthusiastic reception from the crowd at Chase Center, or the touching acknowledgement from his teammates.
“It’s arguably, for me, like my favorite game of my career, cause I didn’t know what to expect. Definitely didn’t think I was gonna catch two bodies, I’ll tell you that!” Thompson told former Warriors Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson on All The Smoke. “I was in Santa Cruz a month earlier and it was tough to get to the cup, like, ‘Gah man, I don’t remember it being this hard!’ And then it was just tough to dunk, get that momentum. But once you get in front of the crowd like that, the energy, that was an out of body experience. I couldn’t believe I did that. You just feel the crowd, feels the ooohs and aaahs every time you touch the ball. And that was such a built-up day. It was two years. I had all my teammates rocking with the No. 11. The whole day [was] after me, so I was like, ‘Ah, I gotta live up to the hype.’”
Remember that Thompson played 20 minutes against Cleveland and scored 17 points on 7 of 18 shooting, virtually letting loose at every chance. With Jackson and Barnes, he made jokes about that extreme anger, his appetite for buckets being fueled by his heightened adrenaline.
But for him, the most unforgettable moment will always be that instantly iconic poster dunk.
On ‘All The Smoke’ with @Matt_Barnes22 & @DaTrillStak5, Klay Thompson reflected on his first game back from injury, instant-classic poster dunk.
“That was an out-of-body experience…When I have a bad day I watch that clip, because I’m like ‘Okay, anything is really possible.'” pic.twitter.com/bNvcW3PUfY
— Jack Winter (@ArmstrongWinter) October 21, 2022
As the Warriors advanced to the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics, Thompson played some of his finest basketball since his return, leading the team in minutes played during their championship run. His injuries were severe, but the effects are still being felt.
Thompson didn’t participate in exhibition play until Golden State’s preseason finale, meaning he didn’t start practising with his teammates until a week before the start of the regular season. He is therefore unlikely to play much more than the 19 minutes he logged in the Warriors’ rout of the Los Angeles Lakers on ring night as they head into Friday’s game against the Denver Nuggets.
Thompson now values every second of his NBA career more than he did before his injury. Rest certain that he isn’t taking any aspect of Golden State’s pursuit for back-to-back championships for granted as he approaches removing significant minutes and game limits.
A lot of smoke
The article “Out of body experience”: Klay Thompson on his career’s most memorable game featured originally on ClutchPoints.