When Klay Thompson sustained a right Achilles tendon injury on Wednesday, the circumstances of his attempted comeback conjured up memories of Norm Nixon’s career in the 1980s.
Thompson, 30, will miss the entire 2020-21 NBA season, the Warriors announced a day later. He injured his Achilles during a pickup basketball game.
The veteran sharpshooter missed the entire 2019-20 season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors.
Klay Thompson entered the NBA in 2011.
Parallels to Norm Nixon
As South Florida Sun-Sentinel sports reporter Ira Winderman detailed in a November 1988 article, Los Angeles Clippers guard Nixon suffered a knee injury in th summer of 1986 during a Broadway Show League softball game in New York.
“It was innocuous fun — until he stepped in a hole in center field. In a flash, 80 percent of the quadriceps tendons in his left knee were torn,” Winderman wrote. “And a season was lost.”
Fast forward to Nov. 5, 1987, two days before the Clippers’ season opener. Nixon’s worst nightmare came true. During a team workout at Cal State-Dominguez Hills, Nixon. who entered the NBA in 1977 with the Los Angeles Lakers, ruptured his right Achilles tendon. The he missed another full season.
“It made me re-examine myself,” Nixon, then 32, told the Sun-Sentinel. “The thoughts about what I should do lingered for a long time. But I didn’t want injuries to run me out of this game.”
Nixon only played 53 more games in the NBA, for the Clippers in the 1988-89 season.
Klay Thompson’s career at a crossroads
Will Klay Thompson enjoy a successful post-injuries chapter in an ultra-success career that has included five consecutive trips to the NBA Finals?
Or will the back-to-back major injuries signal a beginning of the end for him?
Only time will tell.