Klay Thompson has always been a character.
Just ask Warriors CEO Joe Lacob, who joined NBC Sports Bay Area analyst Grant Liffmann on the "Dubs Talk" podcast and recalled some of his favorite anecdotes from Thompson's early days with Golden State.
"The funniest stories always happen to be about Klay," Lacob said. "I specifically can recall, even today, the very first year he was on the team."
The year was 2011, and at the time Thompson was a fresh-faced 21-year-old out of Washington State. Golden State drafted Thompson with the No. 11 overall pick that year, and and according to Lacob, the organization didn't quite know what to do with him.
"People don’t remember, when he first started out, he couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn for a little while," Lacob laughed. "It was a tough beginning. I remember everyone saying, ‘Don’t play this guy, he can’t shoot.’ "
Thompson's rookie season was full of road bumps, and even though the NBA lockout limited the season to just 66 games, he appeared in all of them. Thompson averaged 12.5 points and two assists a game. The following season, he started all 82 games for the Warriors, averaging 16.6 points over 35.8 minutes per game. Two seasons later, Thompson secured his first of five NBA All-Star berths.
By the end of the 2018-19 season, Thompson was a three-time NBA champion.
However, Lacob notes that it wasn't always an easy process, especially in Thompson's younger days. The organization struggled to communicate with Thompson because well, he just didn't speak.
"He didn’t talk," Lacob explained. "There was no way to really communicate with him because he never said a word. The communication was so difficult."
Obviously, those early struggles have all been worth it to Golden State. Thompson has become one of the game's most elite two-way players, and helped head an iconic dynasty in the Bay. He and fellow Splash Brother Steph Curry have become one of the most recognizable duo's in sports.
He's also a much better communicator. While Thompson has missed the last two season with a torn ACL and now a torn Achilles, he's taken on a team ambassador role while he rehabs. Thompson has been around the team when possible, catching up with old teammates and reaching out to the younger players in effort to build chemistry for his return.
All of that is not lost on the organization in any way.
"To watch him evolve over the years, and see not only how consistently great he’s been … his ability to communicate is so great compared to what it used to be," Lacob said.
Now, the Warriors will wait until the 2021-22 season for Thompson to officially come full circle.