OAKLAND — A little more than an hour before the Golden State Warriors stumbled to a 115-107 loss to the Detroit Pistons on Sunday night, Klay Thompson is seated in front of his locker, lacing up his Antas.
The question comes in and Thompson is totally stumped.
“Uhh,” the shooting guard said before pausing for a few seconds. He reaches into his locker, grabs a bag of seeds and proceeds to start munching. “That’s a good question.”
Some 15 minutes earlier, his head coach, Steve Kerr, was up on the stage, delivering his pregame press conference, singing the praises of the NBA’s most-understated superstar. Thompson was about to begin the final night of his Northern California wildfire relief charity effort. Pledging $1,000 for every point he scored over a three-game stretch, Thompson donated $69,000 on his own — the fundraiser earned more than $357,500 overall as of Tuesday evening.
“I love that he’s doing that on his own,” Kerr said. “It shows how much he cares. It shows how much he’s matured over the years that this was something he came up with and he’s gone for it.”
“I’m proud of him,” Kerr added. “Just like I’m proud of all our guys who do a lot of work in the community. They care. It’s very meaningful.”
Back at his locker, Thompson, as uncommonly candid as ever, offers a look behind the curtain.
“I think my agent recommended I do something,” Thompson said when asked about the genesis of the pledge. “And I just thought, you know …”
He trails off mid-sentence. It’s a trademark of his interactions with reporters.
Thompson’s agent, Greg Lawrence of the Wasserman Media Group, is providing his client with excellent guidance.
“I don’t know, man,” Thompson continued. “My agent, he said I should do something, do something.”
Ultimately, it was a collaborative effort.
“So, I kinda came up with the idea to do something [based] on my performance,” Thompson explained. “He came up with the idea of a $1,000-per-point pledge.
“And we just ran with it and had great responses.”
As the reigning champs, who have looked downright bored at times, wobbled to a 5-3 start, Thompson has been a steadying presence.
“I said the other night, I think Klay’s been our most consistent player,” Kerr said before Sunday’s meeting with the Pistons.
That’s an eyebrow-raising claim. Kevin Durant is taking over games at will and shooting 49 percent from 3-point range. NBA.com says Durant has the second-highest offensive rating in the league. His teammate Stephen Curry, who’s averaging 28 points per game and splashing 26-foot fadeaways with his characteristic panache, is No. 1.
“We’ve been able to rely on him every single [on] both ends,” Kerr said of Thompson. “He’s shooting the ball incredibly well. He’s guarding the toughest players with the ball — whether it’s [James] Harden or John Wall. You know, guys who are coming downhill at him.”
Kerr also lauded Thompson for his efforts on the glass, a responsibility that many of his teammates eschew.
“A lot of our other guys are just turning and watching the ball go up,” Kerr said. “He’s boxing out every time. A lot of the time, he’s paired with a big guy because there’s been a switch. So, his box-outs have been great.”
Kerr, now in his fourth season piloting the club, has had a courtside view as Thompson has grown up.
“He’s been our most consistent performer night-in and night-out,” Kerr reiterated. “And there’s no way I would have said that three years ago.”
The flaws in Thompson’s game are all but gone, Kerr explained.
“They were all, obviously, fixable because of his talent and his size and his strength,” Kerr said. “Most of it was mental and he’s got that mental toughness now and focus to go along with his talent.”
Making an impact on and off the floor, Thompson has matured as a basketball player and a person.
And his refreshingly honest style remains.
Asked how cool it is that he can simply show up to work, do what he does and, in the process, raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for a worthy cause, Thompson gets up and walks away.
He’s not being rude. He’s just decided the interview is over. He’s just being Klay.
Before he hits the door, Thompson answers the question.
“It’s very inspirational.”