OAKLAND — After exiting the third quarter of Game 6 of the NBA Finals with a left knee injury, Warriors guard Klay Thompson’s 2019 season is now be in jeopardy.
First reported by Adrain Wojnarowski of ESPN, Thompson suffered a torn ACL in his left knee during the Warriors’ 114-110 loss to the Toronto Raptors Thursday night. Golden State confirmed the report, saying the injury diagnosed following an MRI. With a typical recovery time of 6-8 months, the injury may keep him out for the 2019 NBA season.
“You just think about the person and how much he loves to play the game,” Warriors guard Stephen Curry said. “It’s really not about what it means in terms of playing basketball. It’s just im more concerned about him as an individual.”
For Thompson, his most recent Finals had already been marred by injury as the 29-year-old suffered a mild hamstring strain after landing awkwardly on his left leg midway through the third quarter of Game 2 in Toronto.
After missing Game 3, Thompson returned to the floor, scoring 28 and 26 points in Games 4 and 5, allowing the Warriors to keep their season alive after trailing 3-1 in the series.
With seven three-pointers made in Game 5, Thompson helped the Warriors force Game 6, despite not having star forward Kevin Durant available after he tore his Achilles tendon early in the second quarter of that same game.
In the first half of Game 6, Thompson led Golden State with 18 points. In the third quarter, he would add 12 more points before landing awkwardly on the left leg coming down from a fastbreak dunk attempt with 2:22 to go in the quarter/
“When Klay goes down and is out of the game, it’s just sort of a ‘You got to be kidding me,’ like this has to stop,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said.
After being carried off of the floor by Jonas Jerebko and Jordan Bell, Thompson returned to the court to shoot a pair of free throws before heading back to the locker room to be evaluated.
Despite having the torn ACL, Thompson was seen doing jumping jacks and trying to convince the team that he was healthy enough to return.
“He wasn’t aware of the rule that if you don’t shoot the free throws, you can’t come back in the game,” Kerr said. “So I think somebody told him in the hallway. Klay being Klay he just turned right around and came back and shot the free throws. And we committed the automatic foul to get him out of the game and he came back and he told me just two minutes. I think there was just two minutes left in the third, and he said just a two minute rest, I’ll be ready. And next thing I heard was he was done for the night from Drew Yoder, our trainer.”
Thompson even re-entered the game for three seconds before being taken out.
“With Klay he, if they would have let him stay out there he would have stayed,” said forward Draymond Green. “That’s just who he is. You see him try to run back down the floor like, what are you doing? But that’s Klay. How many people is going to play with a hamstring injury? No one. Like no one does that. So that’s just the way he is, man. That guy is — he’s a warrior and obviously that’s no pun intended with that, but there’s no other way to describe him.”
Thompson’s toughness comes as no surprise to anyone on the Warriors roster as he’s made it a habit to play through pain, including the strained hamstring earlier in the series and a high ankle sprain during last season’s Finals. He had a streak of 214 straight games played earlier in his career snapped not by injury, but by his grandfather’s funeral. He had not missed a single playoff game in his career until he was held out of Game 3 for precautionary reasons.
“It does not shock me one bit,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “He’s crazy, to say the least. He loves to play basketball and no matter what he’s got he’s going to try to be out there on the floor.”
Warriors center Kevon Looney — who played with a non-displaced costal cartilage fracture for the last two games — added, “He might be the toughest mother — I mean guy — I’ve ever seen in my life.”
The team will hold a press conference on Friday with additional details.