News of Klay Thompson's torn right Achilles, which will cause the Golden State Warriors guard to miss the entire 2020-21 season, rocked the NBA world Thursday morning.
A title contender, vanished. One of the consummate, congenial, cold-as-ice competitors in the league, now set to miss two full seasons of his physical prime. A dynasty ready to rebirth, shattered.
The development so tremored throughout the Warriors organization that general manager Bob Myers spent a sizable chunk of a Thursday afternoon press conference -- intended to formally introduce recent draftees James Wiseman and Nico Mannion -- fielding questions related to Thompson's injury and legacy.
Myers' response to NBC Sports Bay Area's Monte Pool asking him to summarize what Thompson means to the fabric of the organization:
"I talked to somebody today, an opposing coach just called me who I really admire and respect, and called and said 'I'm very sorry about Klay.' And I said I think there's two players in the NBA that everybody likes and respects without a doubt. And I'm going to say the other guy's name. I don't think I'm going to get in trouble I don't think I'll get in trouble but I'll say the other guy's name. I think it's Klay Thompson and Derrick Rose. Those two guys, I think, are universally beloved.
"And how your peers feel about you in life I think says more than anything else. And I really believe that. And I think that [Klay] is admired within. He's admired without. And you can't put in words what he means to our team. What he means to our fans, our coaching staff, his teammates."
Bulls fans can empathize with that sentiment. Thompson's situation shares some commonalities with Rose, who suffered a torn ACL one year after being named the youngest MVP in league history that set off a career-derailing domino set of injuries.
There's a chance that by the time Thompson's Achilles heals, he'll never again be the same player that once scored 37 points in a single quarter; or single-handedly squashed the Durant-Westbrook-led era of Oklahoma City Thunder basketball in the 2016 Western Conference finals; or nearly spearheaded a frenzied comeback effort in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals, the last full-bore game in which he's appeared.
Thompson will likely be 31 years old by the time he next plays an NBA game. He was 29 the night of Game 6. Two years gone. It doesn't feel hyperbolic to call it a sports tragedy.
So, too was Rose's injury trajectory. The then Bulls star sat out the entire 2012-13 season after tearing that ACL in the 2012 playoffs, but tore his meniscus 10 games into his 2013-14 return. Two years, just about gone. His time with the Bulls, his hometown team, came to an unceremonious end with a 2016 trade to the New York Knicks.
Though he hasn't played with quite the same electricity since the first ACL tear, Rose has reinvented his game in the latter stage of his career. He averaged 18.1 points and 5.6 assists playing just 26 minutes per game with the Detroit Pistons last season, shooting a career-high 49 percent from the field in the process. He received Sixth Man of the Year votes. He still receives MVP chants when he returns to the United Center:
Thompson garners similar reverence in the Bay, and across the NBA. For his foundational contributions to the Warriors' recent run of dominance, it's deserved. A speedy recovery to him, because NBA is better with him in it.