Warriors

Klay's rehab on track, but lost two years weighing heavily

Warriors
Klay Thompson and Steph Curry

It wasn't hard to see Klay Thompson becoming emotional sitting on the bench while the Warriors beat the Denver Nuggets at Chase Center on Friday night. 

It was the first time in 409 days that the crowd noise in the arena wasn't being pumped through the speakers. Fans were back, and the Warriors were rolling.

But Thompson, still rehabbing from a torn Achilles, couldn't be a part of it. 

"He did have a tough game," coach Steve Kerr said Sunday night before the Warriors hosted the Kings. "My observation is that it hit him really hard, how much he's missing and how much he has lost over the year and a half. It's not an easy thing to deal with.

"You can imagine, life is tough for everybody during this pandemic, so there are enough factors out there that make things difficult. But Klay has had his passion and his love for the game ripped away from him now for almost two years. It's crazy. That's not easy to deal with."

Kerr noticed Thompson's demeanor and spoke to him at halftime. Steph Curry took a seat next to his Splash Brother in the fourth quarter to check in. The Warriors have done everything they can to make sure Thompson remains deeply engrained with the team this season, and they've done it well. 

But, there are some things that will only be fixed with time. 

 

"We all try to keep his spirits up the best we can, but there's only so much that we can do," Kerr said. "He needs to be out on the floor. That's his place. That's his happy place."

The good news is that Thompson's rehab is progressing on schedule. The shooting guard stayed in the Bay Area during the Warriors' five-game road trip last week and worked exclusively with director of sports medicine Rick Celebrini. 

Right now, their work mainly focuses on flexibility and strengthening exercises. Thompson told Kerr that he should be back running on a court in a matter of weeks.

"Every time I've talked to Rick or Klay, they both have told me it's coming along really well," Kerr said. "Klay has been in here every day. He's been really disciplined and on it. So he's putting the work in. It's just a long, slow process."

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The Warriors have really felt Thompson's absence over the last two years. They miss his shooting, the spacing he creates and his lockdown defense. His return probably won't solve all the problems the Warriors need to fix. But the moment he steps back on the court will be about so much more than his impact on the floor. 

It'll be a moment of mental relief and emotional bliss, as well as a complete 180-degree shift from what he experienced Friday night.

"He's been through so much and we all admire him so much and he means so much to our team," Kerr said. "I just can't wait until he's back so he can hear the roar of the crowd and feel the thrill of competing again because he deserves it as much as anybody I've ever been around."

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