Warriors

Warriors loved Klay's 'vicious' dunk in victorious return

Warriors

SAN FRANCISCO -- When Klay Thompson last played in the 2018-19 regular season, he finished with a career-high 24 dunks. The sharp-shooter made his long-awaited return Sunday night in the Warriors' 96-82 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers and it was Klay's monster dunk on two Cavs that really brought the roof down at Chase Center. 

Jump shots, fadeaways and 3-pointers were expected from Thompson, even after missing the last two and a half seasons. But a poster dunk? Nobody saw that coming. 

"It did," Steph Curry said when asked if Klay's dunk surprised him. "He's been talking about just how he feels and what's going to be the last thing to come back, and that was the answer. And it took him nine minutes. He got down the lane and had the confidence to try it even and got it done.

"It was vicious. It was amazing to watch."

Curry was on the bench at the time of The Dunk, and couldn't contain his excitement. He ran up and down the sidelines, waving his towel and showing his pure joy in watching his longtime teammate doing what he loves. 

Kevon Looney, who quietly tied a career-high with 18 rebounds and scored 15 points in the win, said that's the moment he'll remember forever from a night that Thompson's Warriors teammates and fans have been waiting a long, long time for.

 

"I'm going to remember that dunk," Looney said. "The whole time here when Klay had perfect knees and Achilles, I don't remember him dunking like that. So for him to come back and his first game to do a crossover and go dunk on the whole team is pretty impressive."

Thompson had his Michael Jordan-esque moment of "you reach, I teach." But even Klay couldn't expect to pull off a "you reach, I jam" moment his first game back. In fact, he said he hadn't even been dunking since he started scrimmaging again with the Warriors for the last two months.

Sunday night was his first game at his new San Francisco home. After years and years of putting on a show at Oracle Arena, it was time to do the same and make his mark on Chase Center. 

"When those lights are the brightest, I just felt bouncy and it just felt so good to throw that down," Thompson said. "I did not expect that."

Thompson, who stands 6-foot-6, put both Lamar Stevens (6-foot-6) and Lauri Markkanen (6-foot-11) on a poster. When he went to hole, though, it was just him and the hoop -- just like it always has been for his jump shot, too. 

"I just saw the rim," Thompson said. "Luckily for me, I threw it down with authority and that felt really good. That felt really good. Really good, guys." 

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Klay admitted that the dunk helped him mentally, too. He was his same old self, putting up 18 shots in 20 minutes. He scored 17 points, even while going 7-for-18 from the field and 3-for-8 from deep. The two-way star even recorded one block and should have had two if it weren't for a questionable foul call. 

But an exclamation of a slam in his first game back? Now that's a confidence boost. 

"It's only up for me," Thompson said, perfectly summing up his season debut. 

The same can be said for the Warriors, who now again own the best record in the NBA after improving to 30-9 on the season. They're one step closer to being their full self, and the light at the end of the tunnel was sealed for Klay with one leap and one dunk on two Cavs, silencing any doubts anyone might have had for Thompson or this team.