Despite the fact that it’s been over six years already, the open wounds of the miserable 2016 NBA Finals finish remains fresh and painful to endure on the side of Klay Thompson.
Joining former teammate Matt Barnes in his All The Smoke podcast with co-host Stephen Jackson, Thompson noted that the Kyrie Irving clutch shot sequence has left an indelible mark in his memory.
For Thompson, the defensive switch he took that allowed Stephen Curry to defend Irving at the three-point elbow with less than a minute remaining in Game 7 serves as the biggest regret he has in his basketball career.
“That’s the other biggest regret I have in my basketball career besides getting busted for the weed [in 2011 while in college] was switching that pick-and-roll with Steph with JR [Smith] and Kyrie,” Thompson said. “I still can’t bring myself to watch that footage; It’s too uncomfortable.”
As he saw some of the footage unexpectedly, Thompson claimed that he can’t even imagine letting himself give up on a crucial defensive play which allowed Irving to create a legendary shot.
“You watch yourself and you’re like, ‘I can’t believe I just gave in to that switch, now Kyrie got one [of] the greatest shots in NBA history,’ ” Thompson added. “Steph’s a great defender too, but I’m just like, ‘Man, I can’t believe I conceded to that switch, it still burns.’ “
As such, the All-star swingman can only be regretful to what happened.
“You never get over things like that in your career,” Thompson said. “When I look at the footage, I’m like, ‘That was a pretty weak screen by JR, I could’ve gotten through.’ “
Irving’s once-in-a-lifetime long bomb putted an end on the whole city of Cleveland’s thirst for a professional sports title in over half a century. This offensive possession and that gigantic momentum it brought became only possible after LeBron James performed a defensive chasedown stop that will forever be played by fans in every highlight video of the sport.
On the opposite side, what both Irving-James duo did just pulverized the Warriors’ hopes to ashes. Riding on a regular season all-time record of 73 wins, the franchise crumbled slowly and miserably despite holding a 3-1 series upper hand on the championship stage.
But for seasons to follow, Thompson and the Dubs still have something to be thankful about. They avenged the 2016 disappointment and went on to outlast the Cavs for two more Finals bouts, and even fortified their dynastic status after winning their fourth Larry O’Brien trophy in eight years this 2022.
Both history and the basketball gods may have turned themselves against them in that critical year, but the Warriors can only be proud and delighted with what they have come eventually.