Klay Thompson to honor high school coach at 'Coaching Corps' awards

Photo courtesy of Klay Thompson

Klay Thompson to honor high school coach at 'Coaching Corps' awards

OAKLAND – After a prolonged shooting session Monday, Klay Thompson was the last of the Warriors starters to walk off the practice court. It’s not unusual. There are few things he enjoys more than seeing the ball go through the net.

He was that way before the Warriors were winners, that way eight years ago as a rookie and, according to Jerry DeBusk, that way when he was a teenager.

DeBusk, who coached Thompson at Santa Margarita High in Orange County, recalls a moment when every member of the team – and almost every student at the school – was preparing for a formal dance during the holidays. Upperclassmen lobbied for a morning practice and, once granted, sprinted out of the gym to get ready.

Not Klay. The sophomore stayed behind, by himself, to shoot.

“He didn’t go,” DeBusk says. “He said, ‘I’m going to go work out. I’m going to shoot and probably go home and play video games.’

‘I laugh at it because that was his mindset. I’m not going to a dance. I’ve got to get better.”

Thompson came around and become more sociable during his junior and senior years at Santa Margarita. But 11 years after graduation, his work ethic remains, as do the lessons learned under DeBusk.

DeBusk will be among the honorees this week at the “Coaching Corps Game Changer” awards show. The mission of Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards is to give professional athletes an opportunity to acknowledge coaches who have been influential to their success while also raising money and awareness for Coaching Corps, a nonprofit that provides youth in underserved areas access to trained coaches in a variety of sports

[RELATED: 49ers' Marquise Goodwin honors coach who 'helped save my life']

As the son of former NBA player Mychal Thompson, Klay and his brothers, Mychel and Trayce, were spared the trial by fire that often exists in those communities. With the Thompsons moving from the Portland suburb of Lake Oswego to Orange County in 2003, they were raised in the comforts of affluence, and DeBusk was quick to remind them.

“Being in South Orange County, kids can be very spoiled,” Thompson says. “So to be in there all the time and showing that we love the game, I think that’s what Jerry respected most about me, my eagerness to get better.”

DeBusk, who returned in 2012, would travel the country, to such schools as Duke and Notre Dame and Arizona to talk hoops with the various coaching staffs. When Thompson identifies DeBusk’s basic philosophies, they sound familiar, a lot like those of Warriors coach Steve Kerr.

“He preached ball movement, player movement, and team basketball in high school,” Thompson recalls. “Which was rare, because usually in high school if you have great talent you don’t really have to run plays or anything like that. But Jerry ran college sets. He ran real good stuff that allowed us to compete with some of the best teams in the nation.”

“Defensively, he was also on point as well, with his knowledge of the game and his ability to teach. He really took time to show us the ropes. I still get a lot of principles that I use now from back then.”

DeBusk coached all three of the Thompson boys and to this day appreciates the support he received from Mychal and Julie. It was clear that Klay’s shooting was his avenue to high-level basketball, but as college recruiters evaluated him there were questions about the other aspects of the game.

That persisted even after Klay signed a letter of intent to attend Washington State.

“I knew it annoyed him,” DeBusk says, “when I would say things like, ‘If you think you’re just going to go up there and stand around and shoot the 3-ball, you’re crazy, because if you can’t guard anybody, you won’t play.’ And he would give me that look, and I knew he didn’t like hearing what I’d just said, but he would turn around and walk away and I could hear him mumble under his breath: ‘I’ll defend. I can defend. And I’ll play.’

“And obviously he did, because he had a very nice career there. And look where he is now.”

Thompson is a three-time NBA champion, a four-time All-Star and an Olympic gold medalist.

He also has a CIF Division III state championship ring he earned – draining a then-record seven 3-pointers during a 37-point outburst in the title game – as a senior under DeBusk.

“He ran a tight program,” Thompson says. “He was no-nonsense, which you need as a teenager. And I just learned how to be coachable from the jump, from his tutelage. He was phenomenal.”

The Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards presented by Levi’s will air Sunday, Jan. 13, at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area.

Watch Warriors' Steph Curry surprise random person on Instagram Live

Watch Warriors' Steph Curry surprise random person on Instagram Live

Steph Curry is using his time while the NBA season is indefinitely suspended due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to make this unprecedented situation a little bit easier on everyone.

Earlier this week, he held a live Q&A with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to help spread the word to thousands of people as to how to help flatten the curve of the pandemic.

Curry has also provided some laughs through his comedic commentary on other player's workouts, as well as through his own child's personal evaluation of him as a substitute teacher.

Listen and subscribe to the Runnin' Plays Podcast:

On Saturday, Curry added to the smiles when he surprisingly joined someone's Instagram Live.

As you can see -- and hear -- it was quite the pleasant surprise.

[RELATED: Riley called Steph 'three-star' teacher in home schooling]

Curry told the hosts that he had been watching them all day. With so much additional time on his hands, he has to fill it somehow, but it's great to see that he continues to use it to brighten others' days.

Monta Ellis reveals 'We Believe' Warriors were doubted by Don Nelson


Monta Ellis reveals 'We Believe' Warriors were doubted by Don Nelson

The 2006-07 season was unforgettable for the Warriors.

Entering the season with minimal expectations, Golden State climbed up the standings late in the year and secured the No. 8 seed, going on to knock off the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks in a legendary NBA playoff series.

Monta Ellis, who was one of the catalysts for that “We Believe” squad, says that it wasn’t just those outside the organization who entered the season with doubts.

“The one that people really don’t talk about is,” Ellis told Slam Magazine. “That year, [head coach] Don Nelson even came out in the paper and wrote us off. He said we weren’t going to make the playoffs, and we might as well start getting ready for next year and seeing what we could get in the Draft and whatnot.

“We had a lot of veteran guys on the team, and me being a young guy and hungry, we took that to heart. We all came together as a team then. I think we ended up winning 18 of the last 22 or something like that to end up getting into the playoffs as the 8-seed. With that run that we made, it was crazy.”

Ellis was the young guy on a starting unit with veterans like Stephen Jackson, Al Harrington, Jason Richardson, and floor general Baron Davis.

But instead of fracturing the team, the players actually bonded over trying to prove their coach wrong.

“We didn’t like that [Don said that],” Ellis said. “So we all came together as a team and we just went out there and played. Off the court, you weren’t going to see one without seeing the other 12 or 13 guys. We go to dinner. 

“Whatever we did, we were always together. It carried over to the basketball court. When we were on the basketball court, no matter if the times got tough or anything, we were always able to stay together. We had heated moments. We had heated situations. But nobody ever got personal with it. Nobody ever took it to heart. Everybody was like, Alright, we’re just trying to get better. We saw that. We saw everybody getting better. We saw the team getting better. So we just stuck with it.”

[RELATED: Five memorable Warriors' playoff moments that stick out]

Although Golden State didn’t return to the postseason until 2013, this group remains one of the most iconic Warriors teams of the 2000s.

As some of the players have said in recent years, this team definitely knew how to have a good time off the court, even with coach Nelson.