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Golden State Warriors’ Klay Thompson Engages In First Full Practice Since ACL And Achilles Injuries




SAN FRANCISCO — Golden State Warriors swingman Klay Thompson took part in full team training on Tuesday for the first time since tearing his left ACL in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals and his right Achilles in November 2020.

“It’s so exciting,” Thompson said. “Just running up and down the field and playing basketball, it’s really a blessing and it makes it so easy to get to work. The boring stuff is behind me, and now it’s just getting back to the shape of the game — i have to be patient because i can be an over enthusiastic person to go out and play but i am just incredibly grateful to be there the work the training staff and i have done over the past two years is really paying off , and it’s hard to put into words how grateful I am to be playing basketball again.”

Thompson, who was cleared last week for 5-on-5 work with members of the Warriors’ support staff, was in good spirits as his return to gaming action drew closer. While the Warriors were hopeful Thompson could return around Christmas, coach Steve Kerr reiterated on Tuesday that no return date has been set and they want Thompson to continue building his strength and stamina after being off the floor for so long.

“We don’t have a target date,” Kerr said. “What we have is a couple of weeks ahead of us, definitely where we’re going to play it out, keep scrambling him as often as possible so he’ll build that stamina. And I think in a few weeks we’ll finally be able to get a target date, but we don’t have that now.”

For his part, Thompson seems content to continue with the rehabilitation work and to let his body tell him, in consultation with the Warriors medical staff, when he will be ready to play games again.

“I don’t want to come back and be a shadow of myself,” Thompson said. “I want to come back like I was the last time I played and I was one of the best players in the world.”

Teammate Kevon Looney noted how much “joy” Thompson’s first full practice in over two years brought to the team.

“Klay looked good,” Looney said. “Especially for someone who’s been out for so long. You can still tell he’s got work to do, and he’s worked hard, he looks good, he looks like an NBA player, he already looks like a top athlete. So I’m excited to see him back on the pitch. He’s getting better every day, every week, so I’m excited to see the next step he takes.”

Thompson knows he will have a minute restriction when he returns, but he also understands that he will join a team that has surpassed early expectations, setting a league-best 15-2 record in Wednesday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers. . He didn’t hesitate when asked if he felt the Warriors could win a title this season.

“Oh yes,” he said. “We are 15-2. That is a good indicator of… [championship readiness], and our defense, I think it’s the top three in the league, as well as our offense — and I’m not even there yet. Think about that. Really think about that. I am also more motivated than ever. I want a championship so badly. More than anything else.”

Kerr continues to preach patience as Thompson begins to ramp up what he can do on the floor.

“The most important thing is that he hasn’t played in two years,” Kerr said. “So while the Achilles is structurally sound, there have been no ill effects; it’s just a matter of building strength and stamina, especially the stamina, it just takes time. It takes a while. So even though he’s playing at full power, and he I’ve just been practicing with full force, he has to keep doing this over and over every day, really wrecking it. Getting his fitness back, his stamina back. So we’re going to be very patient with Klay too.”

Thompson, who said he is not “afraid of getting hurt again” due to the “freak” nature of his past two injuries, said he was motivated by critics who question whether he and the Warriors can make it back to the top.

“I wanted to be on that top [75 list]. I wanted some recognition. I didn’t get it, and that’s fine. Do you know how to get recognition? You are going to win. I just want to start winning again. I want to win a fourth ring,” he said. “Because I haven’t been able to compete in the past two years, I feel like I have a lot of energy to prove – not to anyone else, but to myself, I’m still one of the best.”

Commenting on Thompson’s return to training, Kerr said sophomore center James Wiseman has still not been cleared to participate fully in training as he is still recovering from a meniscus tear in his right knee.

“The injury, the meniscus tear, is an injury where it’s not really a linear improvement, like an ACL or an Achilles. You know, you can kind of map it out,” Kerr said. “A meniscus tear, you can’t map it that easily because there’s more variation in how long it takes to heal. So James is fine. There’s no structural problem and we’re just really, really. He’s doing a- on-one things, 2-on-2 things, drilling, but [the medical staff] doesn’t feel comfortable letting him scramble yet. So we’re just trying to be patient and do our best for James — he’s such a young guy. We just want to be very careful with the injury.”




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