“The bad times make the good times so much sweeter…”, breathed, moved, Thompson last Thursday, after qualifying for the final at the expense of Dallas, probably thinking back to all he had endured. Flashback: June 13, 2019. The full-back ruptured his cruciate ligaments in his left knee in Game 6 of the final against Toronto and left Curry an orphan. Doubly even, because 48 hours earlier, Kevin Durant was struck down by another rupture, an Achilles tendon. It was too much for the Warriors and enough for the Raptors, crowned champions that night. Thus, in the most brutal way possible, ended the reign of Golden State, three times champion (2015, 2017, 2018) in five finals in a row and as such, but also for the exceptional quality of its basketball. , considered one of the greatest teams of all time in the NBA.
A klay record
Or so we thought. Because three years later, the Californian franchise is back in full light for its sixth final in eight seasons and is only four victories away from a fourth coronation for its golden generation (three other titles were won, in 1947 and 1956 when the Warriors were in Philadelphia, then in 1975). His crossing of the desert will have lasted two seasons. The time that Curry broke a hand, that the team hit rock bottom with the worst record in the League in 2019-2020, that Thompson, hit by a hex, also ruptured an Achilles tendon, his knee barely repaired , that coach Steve Kerr is arming himself with patience, after Durant left for Brooklyn, to rebuild with young people.
Klay, on the other hand, will have taken almost 31 months to push back a parquet floor and on this January 9, he marks the blow on his first action with a rabid dunk against Cleveland, just to prove that fear does not inhabit him and that his legs are ready to take the shock. Some 40 games later, Thompson is still not quite back to being that shooter capable of catching fire as often as he would like, he who planted 14 banderillas from three points against Chicago in 2018, a record that does not have. his brother-in-arms Curry. But the 70’s-looking rear, with his headband holding his Afro-cut hair, managed a vintage performance during match N.6 against the Mavs, with eight award-winning baskets (50% success, 32 pts). Record as a bonus, since he is the first to have achieved this performance five times in the play-offs, better than Damian Lillard, Ray Allen and Curry, blocked at four.
“ADN de champions”
The latter, in a rather astonishing osmosis, will have recorded his lowest success rate of his career in the regular season (38%), while officially becoming at the end of December the best three-point basket scorer in NBA history. (passing Allen). But he woke up in the play-offs, achieving the 4th best campaign there (25.9 pts average) of his career. Their “DNA of champions”, as Kerr likes to recall, also for Draymond Green, revitalized and warrior like never before, therefore appeared at the right time.
“It’s a fact, they’re an incredible shooting duo. But they needed each other from the start. Klay takes care of some of the more difficult defensive tasks, to allow Steph to focus more in attack at the end of matches”, recalls the coach, who had already underlined a few months ago how much “they make life easier, know each other perfectly and understand each other”. “I think that we are also very experienced at this stage of our careers”, completes Thompson, son, like Curry, of a former NBA player, warning: “we are ready for this new challenge”.