Golden State Warriors sharpshooter Klay Thompson has gone through a lot over the last four years missing more than two full seasons with serious injuries.
His return to the floor in January 2022 was applauded all throughout the NBA after 941 days without playing in an NBA game. It hasn’t been easy for Thompson who clearly has lost a step defensively after hurting his ACL and Achilles.
Golden State has limited his minutes since coming back last year, and on Tuesday night, Thompson earned himself the first ejection of his career after getting into a back-and-forth with Phoenix Suns player Devin Booker.
Thompson struggled in his 19 minutes, scoring only two points on 1-8 shooting from the field, missing all five of his three-point attempts.
NBA analyst and Hall of Famer Charles Barkley was scathing of Thompson following the game, claiming that the four-time NBA champion was “not the same man.”
“There was a time when Klay Thompson was the best two-way guard in the NBA,” Barkley remarked Tuesday. “And he’s not the same guy. And that’s because of injuries. Now is he done? No, I don’t think he’s done. I think he’s slowing down, and it’s catching up with him. That’s why he’s frustrated.”
Barkley did agree that he’s a fan of Thompson and that the lengthy playoff runs take a toll on all players. On Thursday, following Golden State’s 123-110 win over the Miami Heat, Thompson addressed Barkley’s statements.
“It hurts when someone like Charles Barkley, with the platform he has, says you’re not the same player prior to the injuries you had,” Thompson told reporters Thursday night. “It’s like, ‘No duh, man.’ I tore my ACL and my Achilles in consecutive years and still helped the squad win a title.
“It hurt hearing that because I put in so much stinking effort to come back to this place. It’s hard to even put into words what I had to do to be the player I am today. and, what, played 55 or 57 games in three years? Give me some stinking time to get that back.”
Thompson rebounded back following his expulsion Tuesday night against the Suns, scoring 19 points, despite still struggling from the floor. Thompson was 6-19 from the field and 5-14 from three.
“I don’t know. It just wounded my heart hearing that,” Thompson continued on Thursday. “But I’m going to internalize that, and it’s going to be fuel to me to be even better. I’m incredibly happy with what we accomplished last year, and I feel like I was a significant part of it. I’m not going to allow these ailments to be a crutch for me. And simply going to keep going, and I’m going to have a terrific year. Bet on that.”
Golden State is 3-2 on the season.
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