Klay Thompson spent 17 months rehabilitating the torn ACL that kept him out for the entire 2019-20 season. The goal line was nearly in sight. The 2020-21 season was a little more than a month away. Thompson was set to return and launch the Golden State Warriors back into championship contention.
That isn't what happened.
Thompson tore his right Achilles tendon in a workout last week, knocking him out for the entire upcoming season and sending Golden State's redemption tour into a state of flux. Beyond the on-court implications, though, were the personal ones. Stephen Curry has been Thompson's teammate since 2011. They have won three championships together. And when Curry heard what happened to Thompson he was brought to tears, as he told The Undefeated's Marc Spears.
"He's the best two-guard in the league," Curry said. "To get that call was a gut punch for sure. A lot of tears. You don't really know what to say because a guy like that is having to go through two pretty serious rehabs now. But at the end of the day, we have to have his back. We hope that he is around and a part of what we do through his rehab and staying connected with us."
His resume aside, Thompson is one of the most well-liked players in basketball. His relaxed demeanor and off-beat sense of humor make him a favorite of fans, media and fellow players alike. Now, he will have to recover from yet another injury, and a worse one at that. The Warriors saw firsthand what a torn Achilles tendon can do to a former star when they employed a physically compromised DeMarcus Cousins during the 2018-19 season.
If he does recover, the Warriors will try to resurrect their championship hopes again for the 2021-22 season. Whether Thompson will be able to contribute to that run remains to be seen. For now, all the Warriors can do is try to pick up the pieces and hope for a strong showing from Curry and the rest of the team in his absence.