SAN FRANCISCO — After playing his first game in 941 days, Klay Thompson kept repeating himself: the wait was worth it.
There was no shortage of emotion inside a sold-out Chase Center on Sunday night for Thompson’s return from an absence that spanned more than two seasons. When it was over, after 17 points on 20 shots in 18 minutes, all that was left was to soak in the spectacle.
“I’ll never forget this night,” Thompson said. “I’ll never forget the reception Warriors fans gave us, especially myself. Gosh, it was fun. It was worth every single day of being away and in that squat rack or that shuttle board. All the conditioning days, it was worth every single moment.”
“He’s baaaaaaack,” bellowed a voice over the public address system.
The lights had dimmed. Pyrotechnics shot from behind the scoreboard hanging overhead. Hype music boomed. Players danced beneath the basket, as one by one, Kevon Looney, then Andrew Wiggins, then Draymond Green, then Steph Curry were introduced.
The arena was already buzzing when it was time for Thompson’s name. Fans responded with the first of four standing ovations, which lasted for close to 30 seconds; the next would come after his first basket, a thunderous dunk, and his final substitution — but we’ll get to that.
Allow me to reintroduce myself.#KlayDay pic.twitter.com/yN2esvJj8Y
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) January 10, 2022
This is the moment that Steve Kerr said will stick with him.
Thompson, the last player left sitting on the bench while his teammates bounced around the dimly lit court, allowed himself to soak it all in.
One thought was all that crossed his mind.
“Just, ‘Wow,’” Thompson said. “That’s all that was going through my head: ‘This is unbelievable. This is worth every second.’”
Curry gave up his normal headlining spot in the Warriors’ introductions so that Thompson could have his moment.
“To hear that crowd, knowing that he’s gone through so many highs and lows over the past two years, that was the moment he could celebrate that journey and just go hoop,” Curry said. “It delivered. That moment delivered, for sure.”
Curry said he got goosebumps. Looney said he choked up.
“It’s like watching an exciting movie … a boxing movie and seeing a guy get up off the ground,” Looney said. “It’s one of those moments that you always remember.”
The first bucket
Kerr has reminded his players in the days and weeks leading up to Thompson rejoining them on the court that if anybody will find his shots, it is Thompson; there’s no point in forcing him the ball.
So when he drew up the first play of Thompson’s first game back, it wasn’t intended to lead to Thompson’s first bucket, too. But Klay was just being Klay. Intended to act as a decoy, Thompson received the ball from Andrew Wiggins and, rather than pass it along, let go of a floater as he turned the corner into the lane.
The crowd waited with bated breath, then erupted. Forty seconds had expired from the game clock.
“I was …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Sports
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