Klay Thompson of the Warriors has had to battle his way back onto the floor after suffering severe injuries that made it unlikely that he would ever play in the NBA again, much less at a high level. The five-time All-Star sharpshooter missed 941 days of NBA action due to ACL and Achilles ailments but still returned to Golden State and contributed to the team’s NBA Finals victory the previous year. Meanwhile, Thompson’s fortitude in the face of highly challenging odds is admirable, but earlier this week, TNT commentator Charles Barkley’s comments about him led to backlash.
He’s Not the Same Guy
Barkley said that the 32-year-old was “slipping” and that “he’s not the same man” as he was before his series of injuries after the Warriors fell to the Suns by 29 points and Thompson was dismissed from the contest. Meanwhile, following all that he had to do to come back on the floor, Barkley’s criticism of Thompson “hurt” him, Thompson said in an emotional press conference on Thursday.
“It hurts when someone like Charles Barkley, with the platform he has, says you’re not the same player as before the injuries you had. It’s like, no duh, man,” Thompson said. “I tore my ACL and my Achilles in consecutive years and still helped a team win a championship. I mean, that hurt hearing that. Because it’s like, man, I put in so much freaking effort to get back to this point. Like, it’s hard to even put into words what I had to do to be the player I am today.
“I played 55, 57 games in three years, like, give me some freaking time to get that back. To hear someone say, ‘Oh, he’s not the same as he was before the injuries.’ Like, duh. Who goes through something like that and comes back? Like, I don’t know, it just hurt my heart hearing that. But, you know what? I’m going to internalize it, and it’s going to be fuel for 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. I’m just going to keep going, and I’m going to have a great year. Bet on that.”
Thompson Used Barkley’s Statement to Fuel Himself Against the Heat
In Golden State’s 123-110 victory over the Heat on Thursday night, Thompson was motivated by Barkley’s remarks, scoring a season-high 19 points and draining five three-pointers. However, the Warriors’ first five games have seen Thompson struggle, scoring only 12.6 points per game on 34% field goal and 31% 3-point shooting.
The 2022–23 season has barely begun, and Thompson has just recently shown glimpses of his previous self while propelling the Warriors to their fourth championship in the last eight years. Meanwhile, time will tell if Thompson can regain his form in the upcoming weeks, but he appears more driven than ever to disprove his detractors.