Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on February 23.
PORTLAND, Ore. — Guard of the Golden State Warriors klay thompson finds inspiration in a Kobe Bryant quote, “Greatness isn’t just on the court, it’s all you do.”
He has shaped Thompson into a creature of habit when it comes to his game preparation. He goes through the same warm-up routine every game, the same one he’s been doing for years. He begins with the same knee stretch, a new addition to his routine since he came back from a torn ACL and a torn Achilles tendon: three small knee movements to the right, three times to the left.
His shooting warmup begins with mid-range shots from different points on the court, sometimes getting extra arc on the ball or involving his legs more if his shot feels short. Eventually, he works on 3-point shooting, which combines dribbling and moving action.
“When I was younger in college, I would literally show up. I wouldn’t stretch, I wouldn’t warm up, I would just walk onto the court,” Thompson, who played three seasons at Washington State from 2008 to 2011, told ESPN. “I could just play basketball. But now, after all the mileage, you have to be meticulous about your training.”
He then goes to the weight room.
Her pregame routine stops just short of being superstitious. He says that he can’t get too hung up on it, but he knows that if he throws a kettlebell correctly, it’s a good sign.
Thompson doesn’t do the somersault that often, just once every few months, and he doesn’t have a great record. But when he does, he usually follows with a great performance.
“I see if it lands upright. If it does, it’s going to be a good night,” Thompson said. “It’s rare for it to happen. But when it does, it’s nice.”
That’s exactly what happened before his 42-point performance on February 6, when he hit 12 3-pointers against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
It was the eighth time Thompson made at least 10 3-pointers in a game, the second-most in NBA history behind his brother Splash. Stephen Curry.
Curry was sidelined indefinitely on February 4 with partial tears to the left superior tibiofibular ligaments and the interosseous membrane, which holds the fibula and tibia together. He also suffered a lower leg contusion, but Golden State announced Wednesday that Curry is “making good progress” on his recovery and will be re-evaluated in a week.
The Warriors, 2-3 in five games since Curry’s injury, need to survive this stretch if they hope to hold on to the packed Western Conference seeding.
Thompson knows he has more pressure on his shoulders to step up in Curry’s absence. But if he plays like he’s under pressure, he knows he won’t get the results he did against Oklahoma City.
“I might have a few more shot attempts (when Curry’s out), but I have to be myself, play my game, not play the hero,” Thompson said. “That’s when I get in trouble.”
Thompson described himself as compulsive with his shooting splits, percentages and averages, but over the past 18 months, as he’s recovered from back-to-back ACL and Achilles tendon injuries, he’s learned to forget about it.
“That time gave me a lot of gratitude for doing what I do. It gave me perspective on what really matters,” Thompson said. “I’m playing, competing. That’s the most important thing. If you do those things and give it your all, you can accept the accolades and great shooting nights will come.”
Golden State doesn’t need Thompson to be the hero in Curry’s absence. They just need it to be reliable. The same can be said of jordan poole and Andrew Wiggins.
In the first two games without Curry, Thompson hit 19 3-pointers, his most in a two-game span of his career. He also scored 73 points in those two games, the most in NBA history in two games without taking a free throw.
Thompson has averaged 25.9 points on 44% shooting (40% on 3) in 14 games he has played without Curry this season. In the 32 games with Curry in the lineup, Thompson averaged 19.4 points on 41% shooting.
“We feed off of Klay all the time,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Klay can keep us on this.”