Golden State Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson knows how to put the ball through the hoop from a distance better than most others who have ever picked up a basketball.
Thompson's best days may be behind him, too. His age is increasing, and the Warriors have yet to look as good as they did last year when they hoisted the trophy. Even if Thompson's career ended tomorrow, he has already accumulated a lifetime of lightning performances that shocked everyone in the arena.
Here are some of the most memorable moments:
37-Point Performance vs. Sacramento Kings ... In One Quarter
On Jan. 23 2015, the Warriors beat the Sacramento Kings 126-101. Surely, it was a nice win for Golden State.
This simple reading doesn't take into account that the game was tied at 58 with 9:49 remaining in the third quarter. Hitting his first bucket seconds after to give the Warriors a 2-point lead, Thompson would proceed to hit nine 3-pointers in the quarter while making all his 13 shots from the field.
"It was kind of a blur. I wish I could go back and enjoy it some more, but moments like that go by really fast," Thompson said of his performance.
By the time the barrage was done, Thompson and the Warriors led 97-73, coasting into the fourth quarter en route to a giant victory. Thompson finished the game with 52 points.
"As many spectacular things as Michael [Jordan] did, which he did nightly, I never saw him do that," said Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who played with Jordan and the Bulls in the '90s.
Thompson Hits 11 3-Pointers to Save the Warriors in Game 6 vs. Thunder
Almost every NBA fan knows the story of the 2015-16 NBA season. In one of the biggest surprises in sports history, the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers upset Golden State in the NBA Finals, winning the seventh game of the series after being down 3-1.
Without Thompson, though, Golden State would've never even played the Cavaliers, as it was almost eliminated in the prior round.
After a remarkable 73-9 season, Golden State was on the brink of elimination in the Western Conference Finals. On the road at a hostile Oklahoma City, Thompson saved Golden State from disaster, extending the season with a then-playoff-record 11 3-point field goals.
The splash brother was there when he needed to be. Scoring 19 points in the fourth quarter, Thompson hit five threes and led the Warriors' comeback from multiple deficits, including a 7-point deficit with under five minutes to play.
"Steph [Curry] told me before I went out in the fourth, 'This is your time,'" Thompson said. "'You know, put on a show out there and have fun.' I took those words to heart, and I just tried to be aggressive."
Career-High 60 Points vs. Indiana Pacers
The Warriors added another weapon to their arsenal on Independence Day in 2016 when the team signed superstar Kevin Durant. On paper, this would mean fewer opportunities for a player such as Thompson to have a big night.
Rather than slip, though, Thompson would have one of the best nights of his career on Dec. 5, 2016. In just 29 minutes of action against the Indiana Pacers, Thompson hit 21 shots and eight 3-pointers to build a 60-point performance. What's more astonishing is that the shooting guard only used 11 dribbles to create his 60 points and was about as efficient as any basketball player could be.
"It's just unfortunate two times I got my career high I didn't get to play the fourth quarter," Thompson said.
'Headband Klay' Emerges with Single-Game 3-Point Record
In the early weeks of the 2018-19 NBA season, Thompson wasn't performing quite to his standards yet. The Warriors star had only hit five 3-pointers on the year and hadn't hit more than one in a game yet.
Only an 11% shooter from three on the season before a trip to Chicago, Thompson flipped the script. Draining 14 3-pointers in 24 attempts, Thompson broke the NBA record for most 3-pointers made in one game. Prior to his setting the record, teammate and fellow splash brother Stephen Curry held the record with 13 makes from beyond the arc in a single game.
"Gosh, you look back and only played three quarters and you're like, 'Man, I could have got 16, 17, 18,'" Thompson told NBC Sports' Kelenna Azubuike. "But you just have to use that as motivation to do it next time. Gosh, three quarters, man. What if I got to play the fourth quarter? I always think that to myself."
Once Thompson eventually ends what is likely to be a Hall of Fame career, he will always be under a slight shadow of one of the only players on the planet who is better than he: his teammate Steph Curry. Still, Thompson's ability to catch fire is unmatched by anyone in the game's history, and even Curry can't match some of Thompson's unanticipated records from his most brilliant nights of basketball.
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