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

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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.

The Traveling Fan: Warriors fans fly to Dallas for Dubs vs. Mavericks

The Traveling Fan: Warriors fans fly to Dallas for Dubs vs. Mavericks

Warriors fans are everywhere, and always are well represented on the road. Southwest Airlines is helping make that happen. 

Warriors fans Daniel and ShawnAnthony flew on Southwest to Dallas, Texas for the Warriors-Mavericks game on Nov. 20. 

The guys ate delicious food, explored the city, and took in the game.

The Mavs blew out the Warriors 142-94 that game, but it didn’t stop the fans from having an incredible trip.

"We still believe baby, let's go!" Daniel said at the game.

You can check out the full video in the player above, and check back here at NBC Sports Bay Area for future episodes of “The Traveling Fan.”

D'Angelo Russell explains worst part about current Warriors situation

D'Angelo Russell explains worst part about current Warriors situation

Everything is perfect for D'Angelo Russell, right?

He's on a $117.3 million max contract and is teammates with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green on one of the best franchises in all of sports.

He can't possibly be anxious or worried about anything, right?


The moment the Warriors acquired the 2019 Eastern Conference All-Star, speculation commenced that Golden State eventually would trade him. He faced those questions during his first media availability at Summer League in Las Vegas.

Five months later and the discussion regarding his future with the Warriors hasn't died down at all.

"I can’t control that. I can’t control if (Warriors general manager) Bob Myers is like, yo, let’s go get such and such for this and make this pick," Russell told Anthony Slater of The Athletic. "That’s his job.

"I can’t control it or say anything about it, especially if I’m a part of it. So I don’t waste energy worrying about it.”

That's the smart, mature approach.

But breaking news -- Russell is a human being and he has emotions and feelings. After spending two years in Los Angeles and two years in Brooklyn, the 23-year-old wants to establish roots in San Francisco. But he knows he eventually could get shipped out of town.

[RELATEDReport: D-Lo chose Dubs before helicopter ride with Wolves]

“Yeah, you know, that’s what sucks more than anything,” he told Slater. "Like, it sucks more than anything. That’s kind of what I’m doing now though. I’m kind of just putting two feet into the house that I’m in now.

“I want the jacuzzi there. I want the basketball room there. I want to put my paintings up over there that I’ve been collecting. I want to dial in and be home.

“But at the same time, I understand it is what it is.”

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