Sitting behind the Warriors bench during Monday night’s win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, Klay Thompson, wearing khakis, a jacket and a mask, leaned over to James Wiseman.
As Wiseman, who was supplanted in the starting lineup by Kevon Looney, watched the opening minutes of the game from the bench for the first time this season, Thompson offered the 19-year-old center some valuable advice: Play aggressively, prioritize being a great teammate and, most importantly, take care of your body.
This is something Thompson could be considered an expert in. Before being ruled out for two-straight seasons because of injuries, Thompson was the paragon of durability. From 2012 to 2019, he played in 549 of 574 possible games before tearing his ACL in Game 6 of the 2019 Finals. He had been rehabbing for 17 months before he tore his Achilles tendon during a pickup game in Los Angeles in November.
Before the devastating injury, Thompson had been looking forward to helping the Warriors bounce back from last season’s 15-50 record. Now, at nearly 31 years old, he’s had two years of his prime wiped away. A tough blow for someone who, last he was on the court, was probably playing the best basketball of his career.
“Physically, he’s going to come around. Emotionally is where it’s tough,” Thompson’s father, Mychal, told NewsTalk 830 in Minneapolis this week. “Mentally, having to sit out two-straight years because of a major injury when he’s in his prime. That’s very frustrating.”
After undergoing surgery and starting his rehab process in Orange County, Klay rejoined the Warriors earlier this month to continue his rehabilitation. He has been a welcome addition to the team’s bench during home games at Chase Center.
To keep Klay’s spirits up as he navigates his second-straight season away from games, Warriors coaches and teammates have been encouraging Klay to stay around the team as much as possible. It’s something that can also prove beneficial to younger players, like Wiseman.
As Golden State aims to return to the playoffs, there’s an understanding within the organization that hopes of contending for a title are on hold until Klay returns, and the Warriors’ decorated backcourt is reunited.
How Klay will play after two major lower-body injuries, however, remains to be seen. His father remains bullish.
“Him and Steph Curry,” Mychal said, “will pick-up right where they left off.”
Contributed by local news sources