Klay Thompson’s emotional return on Sunday showed just how much he was missed from the Warriors for the last two-and-a-half years.
The energy could be felt as soon as he stepped on the hardwood for the first time in 941 days in Golden State’s 96-82 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers at Chase Center.
But Warriors owner Joe Lacob said not only did Klay’s comeback fulfill the Warriors’ puzzle on the court, but it also completed their home at Chase Center.
“I would tweet, ‘Tonight Chase Center is finally finished with construction,’” Lacob told Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes on Sunday night. “We’re halfway through our third year in this building, and I feel like Klay is the final piece to the construction.”
The five-time All-Star finished with 17 points on 7-of-18 shooting and 3-of-8 from beyond the arc in 20 minutes.
In his season debut, it was also the first time Klay played at Chase Center. The last time he was in action was at Oracle Arena in Oakland.
The Dubs had the worst record in the league during their first year in the new arena in 2019-20. The following season, Golden State found a rhythm, but its season came to a heartbreaking end when the Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Warriors in a thrilling overtime play-in game.
“It was obviously not ideal circumstances,” Lacob told Haynes. “And last year we unfortunately lost Klay for a second year due to the Achilles injury, but I think we did a pretty good job. We would have made the playoffs if it wasn’t for that play-in format, which wasn’t bad. But now we’ve got all the pieces back together and we’ve had a good offseason and we drafted some young guys that haven’t gotten a chance to play yet that we really like.
"So I feel like this is our first year of getting back after the five-year title run. We’ll see where it goes. I’m not assuming anything at this point, but we certainly have a lot of talent, a really good team and I think it will jell even more so as we go along this year.”
And now, two seasons later, Klay, Steph Curry and Draymond Green are all on the court together again, and the Warriors are currently the best team in basketball.
After five consecutive NBA Finals appearances and three titles, Lacob said the future is bright for the Dubs.
“Our goal is to be great throughout this decade,” Lacob continued to Haynes. “We had a great last decade and our goal is to set ourselves up for another great decade. We’ve got Steph, Klay and Draymond for the next several years at a high level, hopefully longer. [Andrew] Wiggins is only 26. With [Jordan] Poole, [James] Wiseman, [Jonathan] Kuminga and [Moses] Moody, we’ve got a lot of talent to develop and a lot of work to do, but we’re pretty excited.”