The play forever will go down in NBA history. Klay Thompson clutching his knee in agony on the Oracle Arena floor in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals is a sight Warriors fans wish they could erase.
But it also brings up one of the biggest what-ifs ever in basketball. What if Thompson cleanly finished his dunk attempt with 2:22 left in the third quarter against the Raptors and never tore his ACL?
For Thompson, the answer to that scenario is an easy one.
“In my mind, yes, we would’ve won if I didn’t get hurt,” Thompson told The Athletic's Marcus Thompson. “But that’s just the nature of sports, you know? What-ifs? It doesn’t matter. It’s if you do your deed or not. In my mind, I think we would’ve. But you never know. That’s the hard part you’ve got to accept."
Klay was at his best when he went down. He scored 30 points in 32 minutes in Game 6, and that was just the continuation of a fantastic series against Toronto. Thompson averaged 26 points in five games while shooting a ridiculous 59.4 percent from 3-point range. Catching fire isn't anything new for the five-time All-Star, but this might have been the best version of Thomson anyone has seen.
He also knows the reality of injuries. While Thompson has been extremely durable for the Dubs over his eight-year career, he has seen stars go down in the past against Golden State on the biggest stage.
Rehabbing from his own injury now gives him a much different perspective.
"I look at all the guys who had bad luck getting injured against us the last few years, and I’ve honestly become so much more sympathetic," Thompson. "Yeah. That’s just the nature of the beast.”
Despite Kevin Durant leaving in free agency and the Warriors dealing with a whole new roster, Thompson believes the team's dynasty is far from over. But this dynasty, and the future of the NBA, could have looked a lot different with a healthy Klay Thompson in the rest of Game 6 and beyond.
What-ifs have happened before and they will happen again. For Warriors fans, however, this one will sting for a lifetime.