Golden State Warriors sharpshooter Klay Thompson has been through a lot over the last several years, missing more than two full seasons with devastating injuries.
His return to the court in January 2022 was celebrated all over 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 tearing his ACL and Achilles.
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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 guard Devin Booker.
Thompson struggled in his 19 minutes, scoring just 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 critical of Thompson following the game, saying that the four-time NBA champion was “not the same guy.”
“There was a time when Klay Thompson was the best two-way guard in the NBA,” Barkley said 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 acknowledge that he’s a fan of Thompson and that the deep 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 words.
“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 team win a championship.
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“It hurt hearing that, because I put in 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. And, it’s like, played 55-57 games in three years? Give me some freaking time to get that back.”
Thompson bounced back after his ejection night against the Suns, scoring 19 points, though still struggling from the floor. Thompson was 6-19 from the field and 5-14 from three.
“I don’t know. It just hurt my heart hearing that,” Thompson continued on Thursday. “But I’m going to internalize it, and it’s going to be fuel to 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. And just going to keep going, and I’m going to have a great year. Bet on that.”
Golden State is 3-2 on the season.
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