For eight seasons, Klay Thompson and Steph Curry were liquid grace for the Warriors, working flawlessly in concert with one another to create the greatest shooting backcourt of all time. A shooting duo that burned the NBA to ashes en route to five straight NBA Finals berths, and was nearly impossible to extinguish once lit.
And then, just like that, it was gone. Thompson tore his ACL in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals and was lost for the entire 2019-20 season. Curry, in a poetic turn of fate, fractured his hand five games into that season and ended up playing in only one game the rest of the way. The Splash Bros. spent virtually the entire season in street clothes.
Thompson was set to return last season but tore his Achilles on the day of the 2020 NBA Draft, meaning the greatest shooting backcourt would remain something that lived only in YouTube videos for another season.
It has been almost 1,000 days since Thompson flanked Curry in the Warriors' backcourt. Twenty-two thousand three hundred and twenty hours since we had seen Curry and Thompson co-exist in perfect basketball harmony.
But Thompson has progressed through his grueling Achilles rehab and now is just working to build up his basketball stamina. The five-time All-Star's return is on the horizon for the 27-7 Warriors.
Talking, writing and thinking about Thompson's impending return is one thing, but with one eight-second clip tweeted out Friday, the Warriors offered a reminder of what is yet to come.
With the Warriors' game vs. the Denver Nuggets postponed Thursday, Thompson got the chance to scrimmage with Curry for the first time this season, rejoining his backcourt mate for the first time since they emptied their championship hearts trying to keep the dynasty afloat without Kevin Durant against Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors.
"Man, it was great," Thompson said Friday of sharing the court with Curry again. "My shot was short, my breath was short, but after the first five minutes, my jitters were gone. Just playing basketball again, just getting to go up and down with the guys, I haven't had many opportunities to do that. It was a ton of fun and made me realize how special this group can be."
Curry's greatness has been on full display this past 12 months with Thompson rehabbing his Achilles. But there has been a noticeable void with the Warriors and NBA with Thompson on the sideline. The Warriors' flame-throwing tandem replaced by Curry putting on a once-in-a-generation one-man show with Thompson cheering him on from the bench.
Curry's run over the past year has been the stuff of legend. Exhilarating, mesmerizing and, at times, impossible to describe. Curry has further cemented himself as an all-time great by carrying the Warriors with Thompson unable to help carry the load.
But those times are ending.
Within a matter of weeks, Thompson will retake his position alongside Curry and the greatest backcourt in NBA history will finally be made whole again.
"We've been working tirelessly for the past year," Thompson told reporters Friday. "It's all going to pay off here soon."
The date is to be determined, but it's no longer a nebulous date or an amorphous idea far off in the future. It's here. And with one eight-second clip, the Warriors reminded everyone of what's to come.
Jubilation for Golden State. Winter for the rest of the NBA.