Klay Thompson had a good feeling about the Warriors from the very start of the 2021-22 NBA season, and he didn’t want to settle for anything less than a championship.
That’s why he labeled the year as “championship or bust” before he even played in a game.
On the “Point Forward” podcast with Andre Iguodala and Evan Turner, Thompson discussed his bold prediction, which he made after the Warriors got off to a 15-2 start in November.
“We ain't playing for second,” Thompson said to Iguodala and Turner. “We've been to the mountaintop and the second-place stuff hurts bad, that stuff hurts. It still stings. You don't forget about the plays that cost you the game. I still think about those. So that's what I was thinking when I said 'Championship or bust.' ”
Thompson has been a part of several championship seasons with the Warriors, but has also experienced the heartbreak of losing in the NBA Finals twice, coming up one game short in 2016 and two games short in 2019.
Watching from the bench before he made his triumphant return in January, Thompson already had an inkling that the Warriors could be special. When he made that statement, he said that no one else on the team “even blinked an eye.”
“Everyone was like 'Yeah, he said it because we believe it,’” Thompson said. “From Steph [Curry], Draymond [Green], [Andrew Wiggins], [Gary Payton II], Otto [Porter Jr.], [Nemanja Bjelica], [Moses Moody]...maybe the rooks didn't get it because they're just happy to be there. But going into the playoffs, I knew we had a great shot.”
The prediction turned out to be far from a guarantee on paper, as the Warriors faded from their 18-2 start, going through ups-and-downs and various injuries heading into the NBA playoffs. In fact, the trio of Thompson, Curry and Green only played a total of 11 minutes together in the regular season.
But everything came together in the playoffs.
“[Andre's] back, Loon, Steph, we've got all this time under our belts and talent to integrate, too. Shoot. We've got athletes, shooters, defenders. And I just knew it could be one of them years,” Thompson said.
Beyond that, Thompson just had a feeling.
“It's crazy. It's kind of like you're feeling that, it's hard to put into words because you just feel it in your soul, you know?” Thompson said. “Like 'Yeah, this team has that special, like, that glitter, that gold glitter.' We could just feel it."