Klay Thompson expressed in 2018 that he wants to be a “Warrior for life.”
His father, Mychal Thompson, believes Klay’s basketball lifespan could run until he’s 40 years old.
“I said, if you really want to, you can play till you're 40 years of age, but the key to that is you have to take care of your body, as you go into your 30s,” Mychal said, recounting to NBC Sports Bay Area a conversation he had with Klay.
Klay turned 31 in February. He tore his left ACL in the 2019 NBA Finals. He tore his right Achilles tendon in a 2020 workout only weeks before the Warriors began this season’s training camp.
Injuries have impacted two years of Klay’s prime, but Mychal noted Klay’s position will help him recover for a long career.
“Since [Klay doesn’t] play above the rim like Vince Carter or Russell Westbrook, he can shoot. And shooting stays with you forever,” Mychal said.
His advice to Klay has been to train year-round, and cross-train to support all movement. He told Klay it’s important to keep his weight down in his 30s, focus on nutrition, limit alcohol, and rest.
“You got to maintain your body like you have an office building. Your body is your office building, right? And if you have a business, are you gonna let that building get run down? Get trashed? Get abused? No! You have to take care of your office.”
Body maintenance was different back in Mychal’s day with the Portland Trail Blazers and Showtime Los Angeles Lakers.
“We would play every game, no rest, no load management, and then the next day we have a two-and-a-half-hour practice.” A hard practice, Mychal emphasized.
“When we go home in the afternoon, and all our wives will complain about ‘Geez, these guys come home on the couch and sleep all day!’ Because we're exhausted from practicing!”
The modern NBA has cut back on practices, which Mychal called “a good thing.”
The NBA’s changes to support load management days, plus Klay’s determination to play at the highest level again make Mychal believe his son has plenty of years left, joining the league’s other top stars with the same longevity goals.
“Like Lebron’s doing, you can extend your career out into your late 30s. And I expect Klay and Steph and Draymond to do just that, and play at a very high level, in their mid-to-late 30s,” he said.