How Overcoming Trauma Helped Clay Learn “Life Balance” originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area
SAN FRANCISCO — Monday, it’s already a few minutes after noon when Klay Thompson receives the Larry O’Brien Trophy, flashes a wide smile and raises it high above the captain’s hat on top of his head, causing an outpouring of love from the thousands of Warriors fans lining Market Street. The higher it rises, the louder the roar. This is not enough.
He climbs the stairs to the lower level of the double-decker parade bus, slips out of the exit to the street and races along the barriers, losing the battle to the surging bodies. He allows those who bleed Dub Nation to touch the trophy symbolizing the winner of the NBA Finals and allows them to reach out and touch him.
“What is he doing going out there with all these people?” Julie Thompson asks, turning her attention to everyone who wants to listen. Thompson is not.
“This is my son,” she says humbly. “Risky.”
Clay always was ready to take on the challenge. To turn his eyes back on himself, to look within and see how much he can do with what he sees. However, things are different now. He looks less and does more.
A left cruciate ligament tear sustained on June 13, 2019 in Game 6 of the Finals against the Raptors opened a door that Thompson never had to go through. He had no choice but to do so. A torn right Achilles tendon sustained 17 months later, during the final stages of anterior cruciate ligament rehabilitation, briefly clouded his spirits.
This was before the walls came down, the roof was cleared, and here it is, the 360-degree view. Life change.
“I learned a lot,” says Thompson, “about the balance of life.”
These lessons were learned by Thompson over the course of 31 months – 941 days – in a vicious circle. Surgery, recovery, rehabilitation, surgery, recovery, rehabilitation. Much of what he was used to was taken away from him, from shooting at the gym to diving in the sea and long explorations with his beloved dog Rocco.
In their place came movies, books, musings, and a deeper look at an American society that existed outside the personal bubble that surrounded his first 29 years of his enchanted life.
“He didn’t feel sorry for himself because he realized that there are many people with problems much bigger than him,” says Michael Thompson, his father and two-time NBA champion with the Showtime Lakers in the late 1980s. . “People with incurable diseases. Homelessness. Poverty. He had time to really look at the world around him and see it for what it is.
“The whole process made him more introverted. And grateful.”
Living in a reputation, honest or not, for making life as easy as possible — basketball, Rocco, and sorority — Thompson, at 32, comments on issues such as racial injustice, social inequality, and other important things. 3 point shots.
Don’t worry, Warriors fans. Thompson is still living to see a three-ball hit the net. It remains in his field of vision, but is accompanied by a great understanding of the nuances throughout the process.
“My appreciation for the things we have to do every day to play this game is much higher than before,” he says. “The losses you bear. The shots you miss. Non-working nights and slow mornings. All this. It’s special.”
He even welcomes the “haters”. Thompson regrets comments he made shortly after the Game 6 win in Boston that gave the Warriors the championship. Referring to Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr., who, after a 123-95 win over the Warriors in March, mocked their “Strength in Numbers” slogan on Twitter, Thompson called him a “fucking bum.”
“It wasn’t necessary,” says Michael Thompson, and his son won’t mind.
“For every one of these fans who wants us to succeed,” Thompson said, pointing to the crowd, “there will always be those who don’t want it. But it’s like [rapper] French Montana says, “If you don’t have haters, you don’t spin.”
The Haters run the Warriors’ core trio of Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Thompson. Everyone entered the NBA shrugging their shoulders in doubt and yawning in preconceived notions. Even now, having played a total of 17 All-Star games, they still take great pleasure in silencing the naysayers.
Game 6 was a delightful confirmation for everyone.
For Thompson, 2022 NBA Finals Confirmed exhausting work 31 months away from the games.
“It feels so special—so special,” he says of his fourth championship with the Warriors. “I appreciated others, but this one is different. I will always cherish this because it is like the end of a journey.
It was a long journey. This is the greatest culmination of it all.
Under normal circumstances, Clay would run a summer camp for aspiring hoopers. Not this summer. He’s gone 45 months since training camp in September 2018, playing basketball, undergoing surgeries, recovering and rehabilitating.
This summer you will find deeper satisfaction and enjoyment of the balance of life.