Klay Thompson was in the midst of another “Game 6 Klay” performance.
It was a do-or-die night for the Warriors and Thompson was dominating the Toronto Raptors at Oracle Arena on June 13.
In 32 minutes, Thompson had scored a game-high 30 points and was helping the Warriors stave off elimination.
But what happened next made every Warriors fan cringe.
With the Warriors up three points and trying to take control, Thompson went up for an emphatic fastbreak dunk. Instead, Danny Green fouled the Warriors shooting guard, who landed awkwardly and ended up tearing his left ACL.
“I felt like the best version I’ve ever felt of myself in that NBA Finals,” Thompson told The Athletic’s Marcus Thomspon. “I kid you not.”
The rest is the stuff of legends. Thompson, in the tunnel outside the Warriors locker room, jogged back out and hit two free throws — on a torn ACL — before leaving the game.
But for Thompson, getting hurt at that moment is something he can’t get over.
“I think about that every day,” Thompson told The Athletic. “That’s just the humbling part of sports — when you feel like you’re at your best, something traumatic can happen. But I honestly felt like I was at the peak of my NBA career up to that point. I was at my best. The way I was shooting the ball, the way I was playing defense. I felt like I was one of the best players out there.
“In past series, or Finals, you know, I’ve been able to defer. But in that series, I felt like I was just, like, as close to unstoppable as I’ve ever been.”
On that night, despite missing the final 14-plus minutes of game action, Thompson still finished with the most points in the contest.
Thompson was having the best NBA Finals of his career. In five games (remember, he missed Game 3 with a mild hamstring strain) Thompson averaged 26.0 points. In four previous NBA Finals, his best output was 19.6 points per game in 2016.
Thompson was at the top of his game, but now he will be forced to miss part of the upcoming 2019-20 season as he rehabs his left ACL.
The good news for Warriors fans is that Thompson told The Athletic that he’s more motivated than ever to get back to that level.
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So if you’re concerned that Thompson won’t be the same when he returns to the court, you’ve got nothing to worry about.
We expect a few more “Game 6 Klay” performances in the future.