Klay Thompson‘s 2018/19 season came to a disappointing end on June 13, the night of Game 6 of the NBA Finals. With the Warriors battling to stay alive and extend the series, Thompson went down with a knee injury that was later diagnosed as a torn ACL. The Warriors ultimately failed to force a Game 7, falling to the Raptors later that night.
Thompson told ESPN’s Cari Champion on Thursday that it was devastating to suffer that injury and to fall short of the Warriors’ fourth title in five years, but that he was thrilled to sign a new five-year, maximum-salary contract with the team in the offseason.
“I jumped on that as soon as I could, just because the history with this team and the franchise it would be so hard to leave,” Thompson said. “And the feeling of, you know, unfinished business, getting that close in the Finals, or to the fourth championship — tasting it — just being out of reach. It’s the pain of sports, but it’s what keeps me motivated.”
In his first real interview since the end of the season, Thompson praised the Warriors’ offseason moves, referring to the acquisition of D’Angelo Russell as a move that gave “a breath of fresh life” to him and his teammates. He also addressed his knee injury, his potential recovery timetable (he doubts he’ll be back before the All-Star break), and the Warriors’ outlook going forward.
Here are a few of the highlights from Thompson, via ESPN:
On his first reaction to tearing his ACL:
“I knew I did something. But I’ve never had the severity of an ACL injury or an injury that bad. So me, personally, I didn’t think it was that bad, initially. My adrenaline was so high, being Game 6, whatever. I thought I sprained my knee; that’s all I thought it was. But when I went back to the locker room, it swelled up a lot, didn’t feel right. It’s just not a good feeling when you feel helpless and the team’s out there competing.”
On his recovery timetable:
“I’ve heard varying opinions about [it], especially medically, I don’t want to rush it ’cause I want to play until I’m 38, 39, 40 years old. That’s my plan, especially because the way I can shoot the ball. I would love to see the floor this season. I don’t know when that is.”
On the perception that the Warriors’ dynasty has come to an end:
“To say the dynasty is over I think is a little ignorant, ’cause I think I’m going to come back 100 percent — I think I’m going to come back even better and more athletic. And it would not be smart to count the Dubs out. That’s all I tell people, especially with the chemistry we still have and our foundation still being there, I think we have the ability to continue this run.”