Every Friday, The Washington Post sits down with someone in the NBA universe to talk about life on and off the court. This week’s subject is Golden State Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson.

You guys are off to an incredible start, even after winning a championship. How have you done it?

We’ve got guys who are hungry on our team. We’ve got vets who are true pros, that I’ve learned a lot from. And it also starts with our leader Steph [Curry], and it trickles down. Everyone gets the work in, and came into this season in great shape, so man that feeling last year was really special. We had a lot of people call it a fluke or whatever, and they won’t do it again, and that motivates us a lot, too. We don’t want to just win one.

In a weird way, it feels like the people who have doubted you coming into the season has worked in your favor?

Definitely. You don’t want to … we’ve got a lot of guys entering their prime, and we’ve got a lot of guys who, it’s not that they’re at the tail end of their careers, but they know their role and they know this can be a really special team. Like you said, it’s a perfect mix of doubt, whether it’s from the media or the league, fans from [coach Steve Kerr] being out … we never really talk about it, but we just use it as motivation sometimes in the back of our heads. We’ll prove these doubters wrong. There’s always going to be naysayers, and we just want to win as much as possible.

How frustrated were you about the ankle injury you suffered during the 24-game win streak?

Oh, it sucked, because I was in such a good rhythm.

You clearly weren’t in rhythm coming back from it in Milwaukee in the game that ended the streak. That must have been tough.

Yeah, it was frustrating, but that’s hoops. That’s basketball. I was lucky it wasn’t that bad. It did suck, but we were gonna lose eventually. If we were completely healthy, we probably would still be undefeated, but Milwaukee caught us at a great time and they played a great game, so that’s hoops.

Do you enjoy that you guys get every opponent’s best shot each game now?

It’s good. It’s honestly good. It keeps us on edge, so we’re not complacent. We know we’re getting every team’s best fight, and it’s good for us, man, because it’s going to make us better. When postseason comes, we’re going to get everyone’s ultimate fight, so by now it’s good preparation for us.

What’s your most memorable moment in the NBA?

Besides the championship, because that’s by far … the game against Sacramento [last season, when Thompson scored 37 points in the third quarter] was crazy. I just never thought I would own an NBA record growing up.

What was that quarter like?

I was in such a good zone. Honestly, I’ve looked back and watched it and said, “Man, if I can do that, I can be such a good player if I keep working and just try to get smarter with the game.”

Had you ever had a moment like that before?

I’ve had quarters where I’ve scored 20 or 25, but not like that. To take 13 shots and not miss one, that was ridiculous. I can’t believe I did that. My other moment, I have one more [most memorable moment], too, was being able to start in the All-Star Game with Steph. I look up to him, I see how hard he works, and how good he’s gotten, and to be on the same level as him, and in New York City, that was pretty cool to do that at Madison Square Garden.

For us regular people, what is it like when you get in a zone like that third quarter?

Man, you kind of just don’t really think. You just react. You want to get the ball and you want to get a good look so bad that you just try and … the best part is you’re playing at your own pace when you’re in that good of a zone. When you’re in a zone like that, you are pretty thirsty to get a shot up, but literally every shot you take it goes off your fingertips and it feels so good on every shot.

People say the basket appears to get bigger. Is that true?

You just feel like you’re in such good flow. Your body feels synchronized from your toes all the way to your release, it feels like everything is perfect in that moment.

How much influence did your dad [Mychal, a former No. 1 overall pick] have on you?

He just taught me the passion for the game. I really love the game because of him. I watched it so much growing up, and he loves it so much to this day. His life is pretty much basketball. He loves it and being around the team and the organization. My love of hoops comes from him, and just my simple fundamentals. He gave me a ball really young and taught me my form, how to dribble, how to pass at a young age, so I give him a lot of credit.

I’ve heard he can be tough on you. That ever been hard?

[Smiles] Not really. He played the game, so he knows how good I am, so he expects a lot. He’s never mean about it. It’s constructive criticism. “I think you can get to the free throw line more,” or, “Use your pump fake better.” Stuff like that.

Given how close you were in age to your brothers [three years between oldest Mychel, Klay and youngest Trayce], it must have been competitive between you all as kids?

Oh, extremely competitive. Any sport we did, whether it was football, basketball or baseball, we all wanted to win extremely badly. We were very competitive.

How did Trayce end up getting into baseball?

He always loved it. He was always swinging a bat, whether it was football or basketball season. He just loved to hit and he was really good from when he was a kid. He hit the most home runs I’ve ever seen in Little League. He just always loved baseball. That was his first love.

Did you guys just gravitate toward basketball?

Yeah. I loved football, too. I played quarterback until my sophomore year of high school. I played baseball, too. I loved all three, honestly. I still do.

Where did you play in baseball?

Man, I played everywhere. I played every position. Pitcher, catcher, I played third, short, second … I still played in an intramural softball league in college. It was so fun. Our basketball team had a team, and it was so fun.

Was there a moment you decided basketball was the way to go?

There wasn’t an exact moment … but my junior year of high school I just decided I was going to get as good as I can, because I can go onto the next level. I wasn’t even thinking about the NBA, just college. I figured I could go get a free college tuition if I just kept working.

Who was the best athlete of the three of you?

[Long pause] Trayce says he’s the fastest. Mikey can probably jump the highest. He can jump pretty high. Trayce can dunk, but not as well as me and Mikey. We’ve got a few inches on him. But he’s pretty fast in the outfield. But I’m going to have to go with myself. I can’t give it to my brothers. I’ll go with myself.

What was it like watching Trayce make his major league debut with the White Sox this summer?

That was such a great [moment], after winning the championship … it was an amazing summer. It went so fast. I got to go to Chicago and see him play, and then the next week he went to Angels Stadium so me and my friends all got to see him play, and he went 1-for-2, so that was awesome.

Is the family excited about him being traded to the Dodgers?

Yeah. We were a little disappointed at first, but now we’re excited. I’m excited. Right up [Interstate-5] from where we grew up, so I’m kind of pumped, and I’ll get to see him so much more in the offseason now.

Was there a point you started to think about the NBA?

Probably the beginning of my sophomore year. I was in a zone. I was playing well, and I knew that my freshman year I had a good year. Making all-freshman was great. But I just knew if I could do it this well, there could be a spot for me in the league. And my dad told me that as well. He said, “Klay, the way you can shoot it, handle it and pass it, you can definitely make it in the NBA.” He was telling me that when I was really young, though.

How long was he saying that?

Since I was about 14 years old.

But you didn’t necessarily buy in?

I didn’t let myself think about it. It’s crazy … if you ask everyone in the NBA if they ever thought they were going to make it to the NBA, they say their whole life. It’s crazy. It’s weird. As a kid, you don’t realize the odds, that there’s only 450 jobs or whatever. You just think,”I’m going to play in the NBA.” It’s crazy.

How did you end up playing at Washington State?

Tony Bennett [now coaching Virginia] recruited me, and I just really liked his philosophy, and I knew I would go there and I would be able to play early. I was fortunate to start as a freshman, and that was huge for me. I knew I wanted to go somewhere I could make an impact right away. They were coming off a Sweet 16 year so I knew it was not about exposure, or else I would go to UCLA or some big-time school like that. It was about going somewhere I would play and have fun.

What did you like about Tony’s system?

If you could shoot and defend, you’ll be successful in it. I knew he was going to develop other parts of my game, and it also attracted me because he played in the NBA, so he wasn’t a guy who lived off his athleticism … he got there because of skill and hard work, so I knew he could develop my game.

When you entered the NBA Draft in 2011, did you think you knew where you’d go?

I thought I would go mid-first round to early lottery. Like, to be real with myself. In my mind, I was like, “I can be a top five pick,” you know? But you’ve got to be realistic with yourself.

Did you have Golden State in mind?

Honestly, I thought I was going to go to Milwaukee [at No. 10, one pick ahead of Golden State]. They told me they really liked me, and they needed a wing. When they traded their pick, I was kind of nervous in the draft. I said, “Oh, shoot. These guys said they really liked me, and I thought I was going there at No. 10.” But it just really worked out that Golden State took me.

Jerry West has always been in your corner. How much has that meant to you?

It’s so cool how he’s been around the game for so long. He’s seen so much basketball, so when they told me Jerry really wanted me, that gave me a lot of confidence, because this guy has seen so many great players. He drafted Kobe, he won a couple championships, won a couple as an executive. His knowledge of the game is so deep, so for him to see something special in me, that gave me a lot of confidence.

He always maintained the Warriors should never trade you. What did that mean?

It’s really cool. During that time, I think it was my third year in the league, and he saw I had plenty of room to grow and get better. I hadn’t scraped the ceiling yet at the time. It’s really cool … it’s hard to explain. The guy who drafted me wants me here for a long time, is what it felt like.

Did him saying back then that you had more room to grow as a player make you believe that was true?

Oh yeah. Oh yeah. It makes you want to keep working. That’s about it. It gives me a lot of confidence.

Did you take any extra motivation from your name coming up in the Kevin Love trade rumors?

A little bit. I was very happy. But I did take it as motivation. I had to prove they made the right decision. But I also look at the bright side of everything. It also meant that I’m wanted. It did motivate me to prove them right, and show them they made the right decision, and just keep working.

Favorite movie?

Oh, man. Such a deep question. The one movie I can literally watch over and over again and it puts me in a good mood is “Happy Gilmore.” I can watch that movie non-stop and it gets me in a good mood. Shooter McGavin is my favorite movie villain of all-time.

Pretty amazing character right?

He’s so good.

You have a favorite scene?

Probably when Shooter is talking mess to the guy who he calls Bigfoot, and he says, “That’s physically impossible, sir.” “Happy did it.” “Well, good for Happy — Oh My God!” That’s the movie I can watch over and over again.

Favorite TV show?

“Family Guy,” probably. It’s hilarious. I’ve been watching it since I was a little kid, and it’s consistently funny.

Favorite food?

This is weird when I say this, but if you can make a good gyro, that’s like my favorite food. I love a good gyro, with the lamb and pita bread … so good.

If you were going to do something else, what would you be doing?

I think about that every day.


I think about that a lot. Sometimes us players, basketball is all we know half the time. So I always think about that.

So you think about that, or what you’d do?

I wonder what I would do. I like to fish.

You do? What kind?

I like, not really deep sea, but we go out in Southern California and even in rivers, just try and catch anything.

Fly fishing?

I’ve never been fly fishing. But [fishing] is something I’m going to do a lot when my career is over.

So what job do you think you would like?

I would love to be a teacher, honestly. PE Teacher/coach. That would be such a great job. High school, though. I’ve thought about if I could coach college or NBA, but by the time I’m done I don’t want to travel that much. I don’t want to recruit kids, either. I want to teach kids while they’re young and there’s a lot less BS to deal with, though you have to deal with the parents. Ugh. But ages 14-18 is such a crucial age for young boys … that would be cool.

Favorite musician?

Bob Marley and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.

Favorite song?

The Horns mix of “Is This Love” is like my favorite song. Not the original, but The Horns mix. It’s so good. I like the horns in the background, they do a great job.

What three people would you go to dinner with?

Probably Bob Marley is one of them. [I’d like to] pick his brain a little bit. [Martin Luther King, Jr.] would probably be one of them. I’d want to know what he had to go through, you know? Probably … I want to do some famous politician.

What about Obama?

Well, I’ve met Obama, so I’d pick someone who is dead, so probably Abe Lincoln. I’d like to know what he’s thinking.

Tell me about [your dog] Rocco?

Yeah. My friend had a puppy, and I really liked it. They do need exercise, but they’re not super energetic dogs so they go on my pace. I like him a lot.

Why did you decide to get one?

I have a lot of free time on my hands, and it honestly made me a lot more responsible having a dog, which is good for me. It’s given me a lot of responsibility, and it’s a good precursor to someday when I have a kid.

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