‘He came back better than ever’ – The Mercury News

BOSTON – Klay Thompson was one of the last Warriors players standing on the stage at TD Garden after the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy presentation celebration.

The Warriors were champions, again. And Thompson didn’t want to take one second of it for granted.

“I was feeling absolutely incredible,” a champagne-soaked Thompson said of that moment of pure bliss after the Warriors beat the Celtics 103-90 to win another NBA title. “I was feeling just so high on life that I did not want to leave the stage, and I just know how hard this is, and to be here for a fourth time, like so grateful for my teammates.”

Thompson had a feeling from the beginning of this season that this could happen. Back in November, still months away from his long-anticipated return his, Thompson confidently proclaimed this season was “championship or bust” for the Warriors, who sprinted to an 18-2 start despite being undermanned.

“People called me crazy,” Thompson recalled. “I knew we had a chance to do something special, and here we are. It’s so incredible. Wow.”

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – JUNE 16: Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green (23) hugs Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry (30) after Curry received the MVP trophy, next to Golden State Warriors’ Klay Thompson (11), following their 103-90 win over the Boston Celtics in Game 6 to win the NBA Finals at TD Garden in Boston, Mass., on Thursday, June 16, 2022. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

The prophecy has been fulfilled and the taste of sweet victory — mixed with champagne and beer, of course — made the last three years of pain and suffering that Thompson endured worth it.

“I’m just at a loss for words at times. Because I knew this was possible but to be here in real time, man, I don’t want to leave,” he said. “I want to enjoy every second of this. I know how fleeting it can be.”

Thompson’s resiliency to overcome not one but two career-altering injuries has been inspiring to his teammates.

“I’m excited for him, man. Seen all the work he put in, and all the dedication and all the hard work he had, dealing with all the injuries and all the ups and downs he had… he came back better than ever, on a mission,” a buzzing Kevon Looney said after the victory. “He helped us win a lot of games and helped us win this championship.”

It’s been 1,099 days since Thompson crumpled to the court of Oracle Arena in excruciating pain during Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals. He memorably tried to stay in the game, shooting a pair of free throws before exiting for a final time. He knew he would be back eventually but he didn’t know when and at what level he would play.

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JUNE 16: Golden State Warriors' Klay Thompson (11) dribbles against Boston Celtics' Jaylen Brown (7) in the first quarter of Game 6 of the NBA Finals at TD Garden in Boston, Mass., on Thursday, June 16, 2022. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – JUNE 16: Golden State Warriors’ Klay Thompson (11) dribbles against Boston Celtics’ Jaylen Brown (7) in the first quarter of Game 6 of the NBA Finals at TD Garden in Boston, Mass., on Thursday, June 16, 2022. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

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