It was one of those injuries that sucked the air from the building.
Golden State Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson went up for a dunk on a fast-break feed from teammate Stephen Curry. The whistle blew. Thompson's left leg buckled on the landing.
He clutched his left knee on the ground, writhing in pain.
The shooting guard's season, and a chance to thwart elimination were over.
Klay Thompson's ACL Injury
In Game 3 of the 2019 NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors, Thompson missed a playoff game for the first time in his career with a left hamstring injury. It was another injury endured by an integral Warriors player, following Kevin Durant's calf injury sustained throughout the playoffs.
The five-time NBA All-Star returned to action in Games 4 and 5, contributing 26 points in Game 5 to keep the Warriors alive and bring the series to a 3-2 Toronto lead despite Durant rupturing his Achilles in the second quarter.
Playing on an ailing leg, Thompson's injury expanded to a torn ACL with the Warriors ahead in the third quarter of a pivotal Game 6 in Oakland.
The Warriors' quest for a three-peat rested on Steph Curry's shoulders. The Raptors, behind Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, prevailed 114-110 to win the first title in franchise history.
Klay Thompson's Injury Recovery
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After entering free agency in the offseason, Thompson, the son of former Los Angeles Lakers center Mychal Thompson, resigned with the Warriors on a five-year, $190-million max deal. He underwent successful knee surgery on July 2.
While Thompson was focused on rehab, the dubs fell to the league's worst regular-season record after Curry suffered a broken hand in October 2019, earning the No. 2 pick in the upcoming 2020 NBA Draft. It's expected the Warriors shop the pick for a win-now player.
The coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19 outbreak gave Thompson ample time to focus on recovery. Since the Warriors were one of eight teams that failed to make the NBA Bubble in Orlando, the league permitted an in-market bubble for those teams from September 14-October 6.
He missed the first two days of the Warriors' minicamp because he was quarantining, per NBC Sports. He was able to participate in his first practice since the injury on September 25th and a controlled scrimmage on the 29th. The bay area franchise is optimistic he'll return to top form with full functionality.
guess who's in the building...
The Dubble || @NetSuite pic.twitter.com/RJEcaGKWye
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) September 25, 2020
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr was thrilled to have one of his stars back:
"It's been a long time coming, and it's great to have him out on the floor and in the locker room," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, via Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle. "Just his presence alone gave us a jolt of energy and excitement."
The Golden State Warriors will have a chip on their shoulder for the upcoming season. A healthy core of Curry, Thompson, and Draymond Green would have elevated these guys back to title contention, but...
Klay Thomspon Achilles Injury
Source: Golden State?s Klay Thompson has suffered a season-ending Achilles tear.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 19, 2020
UPDATE (December 2020): Just when Klay Thompson was geared and ready to go, he encountered another brutal setback.
On November 18, 2020, the Warriors star shooting guard suffered a torn Achilles tendon at a workout in Southern California according to ESPN. Just a few weeks before training camp, the injury occurred while Thompson was playing with several NBA players and he felt a pain in his calf upon landing. The torn Achilles tendon is in his right leg opposed to the ACL tear in his left leg.
"Klay has a strength of will, but right now it's a tough day for him," Warriors general manager Bob Myers said. "It hurts. He'll get to a place, I think, where he's on the road. But right now, like you or I or anybody, this is a tough day for him to hear that news. It's hard. It's tough."
Thompson is expected to make a full recovery. He underwent successful surgery on November 25.
The Dubs have made some changes in Thompson's absence. They selected Memphis center James Wiseman with the second-overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft and acquired Kelly Oubre Jr. from the Oklahoma City Thunder via trade.
Last season's primary addition, Andrew Wiggins, who I forget is with the Warriors 99 percent of the time, will step up as the secondary scorer behind Curry. The two-time MVP will carry a large burden as the main offensive weapon.
There were some rumors surrounding the Warriors making a move for Houston Rockets guard James Harden, but those were put to rest.
Thompson will miss his second-straight NBA season.
This post was originally published on October 16, 2020, and updated after Klay Thompson's season-ending Achilles injury.
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