Klay Thompson has had several nicknames in his time with the Golden State Warriors, including China Klay, Camel Klay, and Headband Klay.
Before them all was Game 6 Klay, a well-earned moniker considering his unforgettable fourth-quarter performance against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference final just over five years ago on May 28, 2016.
Without it, the Warriors might not have been able to win world championships in both 2017 and 2018.
With the Warriors facing elimination and down by seven points with just under six minutes to go in regulation time, the former Washington State standout guard scored five quick points to help cut the Thunder’s lead to four. After two free throws from Draymond Green and two 3-pointers from Steph Curry, a layup by Andre Iguodala tied the game at 101-101 with 2:06 left.
Thompson’s 3-pointer on Golden State’s next possession gave the Warriors the lead for good. He then rebounded Kevin Durant’s missed 3-pointer on Oklahoma City’s next possession and after a Curry field goal, hit two free throws to seal a 108-101 Warriors win at Chesapeake Energy Arena that leveled the series at three wins apiece.
“Steph told me before I went out in the fourth, ‘This is your time. You know, put on a show out there and have fun,’ ” Thompson said after the game. “I took those words to heart, and I just tried to be aggressive.”
In all, Thompson had 19 of his game-high 41 points in the fourth quarter of Game 6. For the game, Thompson made 11 of 18 3-pointers, five of which came in the final 12 minutes.
“It was so loud in that arena that day,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr told KNBR’s ‘Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks’ last Friday. “I just remember after Klay hit his fifth or sixth (3-pointer) of the second half as we were coming back, there was a group of fans sitting courtside right next to us. You know, the Jack Nicholson seats.
“I just remember looking at one of the fans and saying, ‘Can you believe this is happening?’ I don’t think the fan was very happy.”
The Warriors would go on to beat Durant and the Thunder 96-88 in Game 7 at Oracle Arena. But Golden State would go on to lose in the NBA Finals in seven games, blowing a three-games-to-one lead to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
It was after that loss that the Warriors began to recruit Durant, who would become a central figure in the team’s run to the NBA title in both 2017 and 2018.
Perhaps, had Thompson not played the game he did over five years ago, Durant wins a title in Oklahoma City and remains with the Thunder, or finds another place to play outside of the Bay Area after the 2015-16 season.
“The primary mandate I had for myself in making this decision was to have it based on the potential for my growth as a player – as that has always steered me in the right direction,” Durant wrote in a 2016 article for The Players’ Tribune.
“But I am also at a point in my life where it is of equal importance to find an opportunity that encourages my evolution as a man: moving out of my comfort zone to a new city and community which offers the greatest potential for my contribution and personal growth.
“With this in mind, I have decided that I am going to join the Golden State Warriors.”
For his career, Thompson, 31, has played in 11 Game 6s, averaging 19.8 per game. He has 42 3-pointers in those games.
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