The temperament of Thompson is better suited to be the hype man than the boxer at the center of the ring. When Curry made his triumphant return to these playoffs after missing four games with a knee injury and swaggeringly proclaimed to the Portland crowd that he was back, Thompson was right behind him, pointing at Curry, turning to the fans and chiming in with, “He Is back, boy!”
A standout aspect of the Splash Brothers is the absence of a sibling rivalry. This is despite the fact that it’s Curry who pops up in all the interviews, sanctions and magazine covers, and it is Curry keeping Thompson from holding the title of the most prolific 3-point shooter in the league. The only NBA player who made more 3s in a season this year than the 276 Thompson made was Curry, who made 286 last season and an illogical 402 this year.
It is acceptance speeches for Curry.
“Klay doesn’t mind,” Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton said. “I do not even know how much Klay needs [the attention]. He only loves the game of basketball, loves coming to the gym, getting his work in.”
He hasn’t seen a togetherness like this Warriors team has revealed.
“It’s quite uncommon,” Walton said. “I don’t think it exists in most places in the NBA.”
Those who know the Thompson family say the conduct of Klay is more like his mother, Julie than his garrulous father. The playing style of Klay bears no likeness to his father Mychal, a 6-foot-10 center who played 13 years in the NBA. But one trait Klay inherited from his father was an ability to subjugate his ego. Mychal was a former No. 1 overall pick by the Portland Trail Blazers who came off the bench for the bulk of the four-and-a-half seasons he spent with the Lakers at the end of his career. The Lakers went to the NBA Finals four times while he was there, producing two championship rings.
“The rest of us benefited from winning. There was no jealousy.”
“We do not put our egos in the way,” Thompson said when I asked him about the Splash Brothers’ relationship before this season. “I think we’re fairly selfless individuals. We don’t really care about the individualism of the match. That will come with all the accolades.
“Winning takes such a precedent. When we win, everyone gets all the love.”
Curry is just as quick to defer to Thompson when he’s got the hot hand.
Thompson has had his highlights this season, even as Curry entered the sporting stratosphere. (Curry was the first teammate to text him congratulations when he signed it).
And when Curry missed all or part of seven playoff games against Portland and Houston with the ankle and knee injuries, Thompson scored 30-plus points three times. His run of eight straight games with at least 20 points matched a Warriors’ playoff record. At the other end, Thompson drew the duty of guarding James Harden and Damian Lillard and heading into Game 7 of the West finals, the Russell Westbrook of Oklahoma City.
To Mychal Thompson, he was shown a new side of his son with Curry’s absence.
“How much he’s developed as a man,” Mychal said. “On and off the court. Understanding he had to step up for him to accept that challenge. He really lived up to the challenge and adopted it.”
Thompson revealed he’s more than just a sidekick, which makes you appreciate it even more when he stands to the side and lets Curry do his thing. Thompson has abilities and the aspirations to be an elite player, with no need to demonstrate it all of the time.
“He desires to be excellent,” Mychal Thompson said. “He desires to be a Hall of Famer and multiple NBA champion. That’s all the motivation you need.”