It has been a rough couple of seasons for Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson, and the emotions spilled out this week while he was sitting on the bench and watching his teammates put the finishing touches on a big victory.
Thompson is sidelined for the second season, having watched his hard work to recover from an ACL injury in 2019 wash away in an instant when he injured his Achilles before the season started. The All-Star guard has been working his way back into playing shape with the hope of returning next season, but the frustration of missing out appeared to catch up with him this week.
Thompson Gets Emotional
On Friday, viral video showed Thompson becoming overcome with emotion as he watched the Warriors take down the Denver Nuggets, a key victory that has boosted the team’s once delicate playoff hopes. Teammate Steph Curry consoled Thompson, who has become a mainstay on the Warriors bench throughout his rehab.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr later explained that it was difficult for Thompson to still be stuck on the bench watching as the team returned to some sense of normalcy with the health and safety restrictions lessening.
“He did have a tough game,” Kerr said, via the San Francisco Chronicle. “I think it was in large part because the fans are back. My observation, anyway, is that it hit him really hard how much he’s missing and how much he has lost over the past year and a half. It’s not an easy thing to deal with.”
After spending last year’s rehab away from the team, Thompson opted to stay in the Bay Area as he works his way back from the Achilles injury. That has allowed him to remain close to teammates and attend games, at times getting involved to help push his team. After an early April blowout loss to the Toronto Raptors, Thompson spoke to teammates, imploring them to play better.
Splash Brothers 🙏
— 95.7 The Game (@957thegame) April 24, 2021
“(Thompson) was just kind of going off on how he misses the game and how it’s not acceptable to lose this way,” Warriors wing Kent Bazemore told reporters after the game. “He’s fired up. He’s just—he’s fired up, man. It’s just hard, watching. He’s sitting over there and as a competitor, you want to be out there.”
Thompson’s Rehab Moves Ahead
As the San Francisco Chronicle’s Connor Letourneau noted, Thompson is moving along steadily in his rehab and expected to start running the floor in the next few weeks. He is on pace to return next season and could be in the opening day lineup, Letourneau noted, but in the meantime will have to endure the frustration of watching his team make a playoff push without him.
As Thompson was cleared to move into more rigorous exercise, Kerr praised his dedication through what has been a difficult time.
Golden State Warriors’ Klay Thompson (11) sits on the bench as a ball goes into the basket in the fourth quarter of their NBA game at Chase Center in San Francisco, Calif., on Sunday, April 25, 2021. #dubnation #warriorsground #warriors #klaythompson pic.twitter.com/CO0q9Ym2o1
— Jose Carlos Fajardo (@jcfphotog) April 26, 2021
“Klay’s been in here every day,” Kerr said in a postgame interview posted on the Warriors SoundCloud. “He’s been really disciplined and on it. He’s putting the work in. It’s just a long, slow process. He’s on schedule to come back in a good place.”
READ NEXT: Steph Curry Gets Honest About His Long-Term Future With the Warriors