“Him, Draymond and Steph should never wear another uniform”: Mychal Thompson on Klay Thompson’s Warriors future, representing Bahamas – Exclusive

Mary Raleigh
04/10/2023

As he collected NBA championship trophies almost by the season, Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson stayed firm on two goals.

He always expected to make the NBA All-Star team each season. He always held out hope he would play with the Warriors for his entire NBA career.

It doesn’t sound like those sentiments have changed.

Entering his second full season following two season-ending injuries to his left ACL (2019-20) and right Achilles tendon (2020-21), Klay’s father Mychal Thompson sounded bullish about how his son will fare in the 2023-24 campaign.

Mychal, a former NBA player and longtime commentator for the Los Angeles Lakers’ flagship radio station (710 ESPN), spoke to Sportskeeda about a number of topics, including Klay’s All-Star chances, his upcoming free agency and how long he can keep playing. Mychal also shared whether Klay would want to play for the Bahamian team and sized up the NBA’s Western Conference landscape.

“He looks good, lean and ready to go,” Mychal told Sportskeeda. “I expect him to be at a high All-Star level again.”

Though the Warriors may not sign Klay to an extension before he becomes a free agent next summer, Mychal maintained optimism that Klay will remain with Stephen Curry and Draymond Green on the Warriors for the rest of his NBA career.

“Him, Draymond and Steph should never wear another uniform,” Mychal said.

Here are some excerpts from the one-on-one interview, which has been condensed and edited:

What are your expectations for how Klay will be in his 12th year? [Klay technically played 10 NBA seasons since he missed the entire 2019-20 campaign with an injured left ACL and the 2020-21 season with a torn Achilles].

Thompson:

“He’ll be back hungrier than ever. He’s two years removed from his serious injuries. He’s been working out like crazy. He looks good, lean and ready to go. I expect him to be at a high All-Star level again. It’s possible. But the West is so loaded with guards. You’re going to have to be hooping out of your mind because all of these guards in the West could make the All-Star team.”

How do you evaluate Klay’s play last season?

Thompson:

“Klay had a great season. 22 points a game. 41% from 3. That’s amazing coming back from his injuries. That’s unprecedented. He played at an All-Star level as far as I’m concerned. He had a great season.”

Klay had a different thought on that, especially after the playoffs…

Thompson:

(Interrupts). “That’s the way he is. He’s a perfectionist. He doesn’t want to miss any shot. He has a great work ethic and drive about the way he conducts himself and the way he goes about his business. He’s the hardest on himself. But I told him, ‘What you went through and the way you came back, you played great.’ He’s going to get even better. With the way they went out in the playoffs, that definitely didn’t sit well with him or any of the Warriors. They definitely want to make up for that.”

I see Klay has traveled quite a bit. What things has he done this offseason?

Thompson:

“Klay always enjoys himself. He has a nice balance. He works out. But then he knows how to get away from working out and recharging. He’s very mature with how he spends his offseason. He keeps himself in shape. He’s been in Greece and China. Now he’s going to the Philippines. I’ve been upset with him, though, because he hasn’t been to the Bahamas yet.”

He has a few weeks left. Is that on the cards?

Thompson:

“He still has a few weeks left. But now it’s time to stop traveling and start gearing up for training camp.”

Did you spend time on the boat at all with Klay

Thompson:

“I don’t boat on this side of the ocean. It’s only in the Bahamas where the water is 72 degrees. It’s too rough and too choppy. There’s not as much clarity. You can’t see 100 feet down to the bottom like you can in the Bahamas. Klay’s a qualified sea captain. No question about it. But with the waters in the Pacific off the California coast, the waves are too big. I like the smooth and calm waters of the Bahamas much better.”

How do you expect Klay to handle this season with the possibility that he will be playing out the final year of his contract before becoming a free agent next summer?

Thompson:

“He’s not worried about that. He knows he has a job to do with coming into camp in the best shape and having a great year. Everything else will take care of itself.”

Klay has always said he wants to be a ‘Warrior for life’. Do you suspect things will still play out that way?

Thompson:

“It makes sense. For him, Draymond and Steph should never wear another uniform. Or should never have to wear another uniform. That also goes for Kevon Looney, too. That boy is a Warrior through and through. He needs to retire as a Warrior after another 10 or 12 more years, too.”

2022 NBA Finals - Game Six2022 NBA Finals – Game Six

Klay is 33 and has had two significant injuries. But now that he’s further removed from that, what’s your outlook on how much longer his NBA career will be?

Thompson:

“We talk about it all the time. I say, ‘Look at LeBron [James] as an example.’ LeBron is going to be 39, but he has the body of a 29-year-old because of his workouts and his work ethic. Reggie Miller retired when he was 40. John Stockton, the same thing. There have been a bunch of guys that have played into their late 30s or close to 40 at a high level. Klay can do the same thing because his game translates into maturing well because he’s a shooter. Shooters last a lot longer than guys that win dunk contests.”

“It’s up to him. It depends on how much drive and ambition he has. But I told him, ‘Play until you’re 40 because this will be the sweetest life you have in the NBA. So take advantage of it while your body allows you to do it.’ Don’t quit too soon. But you have to put the work in to have that longevity the same way that LeBron and Steph do it. You see how Steph works out? Steph is a great example for all the young guys on how to stay conditioned year round.”

Could Klay Thompson represent the Bahamas at Paris 2024? Father Mychal Thompson weighs inCould Klay Thompson represent the Bahamas at Paris 2024? Father Mychal Thompson weighs in

Considering that the Bahamian national team has advanced to the Paris Olympic qualifiers, do you think Klay will play for the Bahamas?

Thompson:

“That’s up to two guys. That’s up to Klay, obviously. And it’s up to Steve Kerr, the U.S. coach of the Olympic team. If Klay is healthy, it’s up to what Klay wants to do and up to whether Steve feels he’s worthy of teaming with Steph on the U.S. stage, which I hope he does.

“We’ll have to wait and see how it plays out the next few months. You have to petition FIBA. You can ask for permission to play for another team. That’s what Eric Gordon did. He won a World Cup medal for Team USA [in 2010]. But since his mother is half Bahamian, he was able to petition FIBA and they allowed him to play for the Bahamas.”

Do you think Klay will want to do that?

Thompson:

“We’ll have to see how it plays out with Steve and everything else. But Klay is very proud of his Bahamian roots. He’s proud of what the guys have accomplished. It’s up to him.”

Would Team USA be his first choice?

Thompson:

“It all depends on where Klay’s heart is. I just hope that he has a choice.”

What did it mean for Klay to play for Team USA in the 2014 FIBA World Cup and the 2016 Rio Olympics?

Thompson:

“Kobe Bryant said it best. There is no better winner and harder worker than him in league history outside of Bill Russell. Kobe said it’s extra special to win an NBA championship, but it means so much more to play for your country and win a gold medal for your country.”

Basketball - Olympics: Day 16Basketball – Olympics: Day 16

What’s your outlook on Klay being selected again? [Klay did not play in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics amid two consecutive season-ending injuries to his left ACL (2019-20) and right Achilles tendon (2020-21)].

Thompson:

“USA Basketball wanted to give other guys opportunities in the Olympics in Tokyo with Damian Lillard and Jayson Tatum. They were very worthy of the Team USA selection. There are so many guys worthy of being on that Olympic team. The competition is the deepest it’s ever been. That includes long-time veterans like LeBron [James], KD [Kevin Durant], Steph, Kyrie [Irving], Devin Booker.

“All the best USA players are going to want to go to Paris for the Olympic team. The competition is going to be stiff. You have the young guys playing on the World Cup team that are also worthy of the Olympic team. It’s going to be tough to get on that team. Steve Kerr and the administration will have some tough choices to make.”

Steve knows what Klay brings…

Thompson:

(interrupts) “Yeah, he does. But those other guys are great players too. Then there are all the veterans who will probably want to go out for one last gold medal, including LeBron, Durant and Steph. Steph has never had a chance to play for Team USA and win a gold medal. So you know he’s going to want to go to Paris, and he deserves to go.”

Overall, how do you assess the Western Conference landscape this season?

 

Thompson:

“The West is so tough. Denver is not going anywhere. They’ll miss Bruce Brown and Jeff Green, but they’ll be right back there. Sacramento is legit now. Memphis is going to be legit when Ja [Morant] gets back. With Phoenix, we’ll have to see what that’s about but they look formidable.

“With the Warriors, they’ve gotten better, smarter and intelligent by adding Chris Paul. What a great finisher he’s going to be in the fourth quarter for the Warriors. The Lakers are right there, too. With Austin Reaves’ improvement toward an All-Star level, the Lakers will be even better next season.”

Where do the Lakers and Warriors fit in the West?

Thompson: “Somewhere in the top five. Right now, you have to respect the defending champions. My top five in the West are Denver, Phoenix, Warriors, Lakers…..Who am I missing?”

Clippers?

Thompson:

“Ehh, you never know with load management with that team. They can be there. It’s possible. With Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, it’d be stupid to count them out. But probably Memphis when Ja gets back.”

 

Who’s your championship favorite?

 

Thompson:

“It’s wide open right now. It’s Pete Rozelle’s dream with parity [the late former NFL Commissioner]. It’s all parity in the West right now. There are so many good teams. It’s all going to come down to who is the healthiest. That’s how tight it is. Nobody can afford to lose one or two of their franchise players. This is going to be the most competitive Western Conference season in history. There are about 12 legitimate teams that could get to the Western Conference Finals. It’ll be crazy.”

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