Klay Thompson is known for perhaps being one of the most cool, calm, and collected future Hall-of-Famers there is in the NBA. The other half of the Splash Brothers will happily knock down threes, lock you down on the defensive end, and go home to hang out with his beloved bulldog, Rocco.
The one thing that got the legendary shooter out of character were some recent comments Charles Barkley made suggesting Thompson’s game was “slipping” despite it being less than a year since he returned from a torn achilles. Unprompted, Thompson addressed those critics after the Warriors beat the Miami Heat, 123-110, on Thursday night.
“I’ve got one thing to say,” Thompson said. “So, it hurts when someone like Charles Barkley, with the platform that he has, says you’re not the same player prior to the injuries you had. It’s like ‘No, duh, man.’ Consecutive years, like. I tore my ACL and Achilles in consecutive years and still helped the team win a championship. It hurt hearing that because I put so much freaking effort to get back to this point. It’s hard to even put into words what I had to do to be the player I am today.
“I played 55, 57 games in three years. Give me some freaking time to get that back. To hear someone say ‘Oh, he’s not the same player as he was prior to the injuries.’ Like, duh. Who goes through that and comes back…I don’t know, it just hurt my heart hearing that. But you know, I’m going to internalize it and it’s going to be fuel for me to be even better. I’m very proud of what we accomplished last year and I feel like I was a huge part of it. I’m not going to let these injuries be a crutch for me. I’m just going to keep going and I’m going to have a great year. You can bet on that.”
Thompson cont.: "I played 57 games in three years. Give me some freaking time to get that back. Who goes through something like that and comes back — it just hurt my heart. But I’m going to internalize it and it’s going to be fuel for me." https://t.co/VnhRTy7atz— Kendra Andrews (@kendra__andrews) October 28, 2022
Barkley’s comments came after Thompson was ejected for the first time in his career during the third quarter of a blowout loss to the up-and-coming Phoenix Suns. Thompson and Devin Booker were jaw-jacking during a tension-filled third quarter that featured the Suns and Warriors drawing a record-tying seven technical fouls in one quarter.
During halftime of the nationally televised Warriors-Suns game, Barkley suggested that Thompson and Draymond Green are “slipping” and suggeseted that “Father Time is knocking on the door of a couple of those guys.” The comments come during a time when Coach Steve Kerr and the Warriors medical staff placed the four-time champs on a minute restriction to start the season.
On Tuesday, Thompson responded with season-high numbers nearly across the stat sheet. The five-time All-Star posted 19 points on 6-19 shooting from the field and 5-14 shooting from beyond the arc in 29 minutes, all season-high marks for Thompson.
“It’s so great and it’s a huge building block for me” Thompson said about his workload. “It’s the best I’ve feld conditioning-wise.”
Thompson on playing a season-high 29 minutes: "It's so great and it's a huge building block for me. It's the best I've felt conditioning-wise."— Kendra Andrews (@kendra__andrews) October 28, 2022
When Stephen Curry was asked about Thompson’s postgame reponse, he noted that his Splash Brother was in a good mood all day long, but believes that Barkley’s remarks fueled Thompson to put on his 19-point performance.
“The comments are part of our success, like you’re always going to be in a spotlight and people care about how you’re playing and care to comment positively or negatively because they know that will move the needle,” Curry told reporters after the win Thursday. “And when you say certain names, people are going to pay attention. But it’s interesting because certain guys forget what their careers looked like on the back end. So you can kind of cast and throw those stones but Klay’s still in here, like you said, helping us win a championship after the two hellish years that he had.
“And now, it’s just balancing, for him, the expectations of what he was before the injuries and what he can get back to, all the while maintaining his impact on winning. I’m sure he’s comparing to the stat lines and percentages and all that, but I think I heard coach [Steve Kerr] talk about it earlier. He’s gone through this, even before the injuries, where slow starts don’t really hold him down, don’t kill his confidence. But when you come off a championship, you have such a hunger and a desire to get back to what he wants to be personally. And he’s going to get there. It’s just a matter of sticking with the program, the time that he puts in. His competitive fire that comes out every single night. And he’s going to make shots. We’re not worried about that. It’s a long season.”
Thompson, Green, and the Warriors will have another chance to dispute Barkley’s observations when they take on the Charlotte Hornets to start a five-game Eastern Conference road trip.