Klay Thompson's toughness never has been up for debate during his NBA career, perfectly exemplified by his willingness to shoot two free throws after tearing his ACL in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals.
Zaza Pachulia, who became very close with Thompson during their time playing together with the Warriors and now works in the team's front office, explained to the Mercury News' Wes Goldberg why he's always admired Klay's grit.
“Some people are just built that way,” Pachulia told Goldberg. “They’re just strong, tough. That’s what Klay is. God gave him a naturally good body.”
That body has manifested five All-Star appearances, two All-NBA selections and helped bring three NBA championships to the Bay Area. Thompson also was the last Warrior to reach the vaunted 60-point threshold in a game, before Steph Curry topped it in early January with a 62-point effort in a win over the Portland Trail Blazers.
Pachulia told Goldberg about a game against the San Antonio Spurs in which Thompson went down hard, but bounced right back up and ran back down the court without much delay.
“Some players would lay there for a minute and shake it off, make it a little bit dramatic,” Pachulia told Goldberg. “Klay never did that. He’d fall, it looked nasty but, guess what? He’d get up right away and continue to play basketball. He’s got that type of mentality.”
When Thompson went down in that Game 6 against the Toronto Raptors at Oracle Arena, he famously told coach Steve Kerr he was fine and just needed a few moments to collect himself.
"It was such a dramatic moment, it was a terrible moment," Kerr told reporters in January. "I think we all feared just from the way he landed on the floor that it was pretty serious. So I remember, I went out, I think we took a foul right after the free throws, and I went out onto the court and told him, I said 'Klay, you've gotta get it checked out.' He said 'I'm fine coach, I'm fine.' And I said 'No. go in, go in and let our doctors make sure you're OK.'
"And he said 'OK, but I'll be fine, I'll be back. Gimme two minutes, I'll be back,' and that was from a guy with a torn ACL. He goes and knocks down the free throws, and then of course, he hasn't been on the court since for us."
The star won't be playing at all this season for the Warriors after tearing his Achilles in November, but if anyone can come back and still play at a high level, it's Klay.