What, you thought the headline would read “Draymond,” as a nod to the awful TV show I could never bring myself to watch for longer than 45 seconds? Nope, not this time. Why? Because this is a meaningless, speculative post about Klay Thompson.
Here’s a little secret about NBA content during summer months. It’s all meaningless and speculative. It’ll be over two months before they start playing real games, and we really don’t know what’ll happen once they do (other than who’ll probably make the playoffs, the conference finals, and the Finals). Plus, what does it really matter if someone predicted that JaVale McGee will find a spot in the Warriors rotation, or Patrick McCaw will make the All-Rookie team? Congrats if you’re that prescient, but this is the time of the year when I’m more interested in popularity. Maybe it’s because I’m starting to notice a pattern with this Warriors team.
Golden State rolls into next season with four bonafide stars, plus one player who’s been an All-Star and might be as close as the current NBA gets to having a 6′ 6″ Yoda around (Andre Iguodala). One would think the most popular player on the team will be one of the two MVPs, or even its most vocal player, but now I’m starting to wonder.
Kevin Durant: Persona non grata among 95% of fans around the league, and even some NBA players are taking shots at the player who a few short years ago was thought to be the most down-to-earth megastar in any sport. Now he’s a quitter, an opportunist, a real Benedict Arnold. Even if he scores 30 a game and wins both the regular season and Finals MVP awards, he won’t be loved by many outside Northern California.
Stephen Curry: The backlash started when all of the old heads started chirping about the physicality in different eras, how Curry is “just a shooter,” and all the other complaints retired Hall-of-Famers are prone to make if anyone’s willing to listen. But after an uneven postseason, a two-month stretch that was capped by one of the dumbest behind-the-back passes in Game 7 history and a surreal inability to break Kevin Love down off the dribble, Curry has become the NBA’s version of Clayton Kershaw. Well, other than Curry owning a ring, anyway. Like Kershaw, Curry has clearly been the top regular season player for quite some time.
However, a mediocre (for him) 2015 Finals was followed by the lasting image one year later of LeBron James blocking his shot out of bounds and smirking, as if Curry was some bratty pre-teen who snuck into James’ pickup game and thought no one would notice.
We’ve already seen Curry’s “cool quotient” take a hit. The Chef 2 lows, those white shoes that started an internet meme-a-lanche, showed for the first time in a while that everything he touches isn’t necessarily golden. Once any player wins consecutive MVPs, the thirst for someone/anyone else to knock that guy off his pedestal becomes a story, and not all NBA fans buy Curry’s squeaky-clean, complete-opposite-of-J.R.-Smith image.
Draymond Green: Here’s someone who’s gone the opposite direction as Curry. Durant made a decision that hurt an oil town’s feelings. That’s nothing compared to Green, who in the last year became a nut punching, college football player slapping, 118 mph and dick pic snapchatting super villain. This is not what Steve Kerr had in mind when he made the obvious comparisons to Dennis Rodman a while back, and despite Green’s attempts to be as accessible as any athlete — thanks to lengthy interviews and sponsored video journals — he and Durant will compete to earn the label of 2016-17 MBP (Most Booed Player).
Klay Thompson: And look who’s over there in the corner, just chilling and getting more popular by the day. As much as the 2016 postseason hurt Curry’s reputation, it boosted Thompson’s. His 41-point performance with 11 threes in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals saved Golden State’s season (and possibly laid the groundwork for Durant to jump ship). Thompson, who has never been known for seeking out microphones, showed during the playoffs that he has a personality. A pretty candid and funny one, in fact.
Sometimes the comedy came intentionally: (“We’re better than the Showtime Lakers.”)
Sometimes he was really, really funny by accident.
Klay sums up the night. This is classic. pic.twitter.com/YYdEkJnIM8
— Guy Haberman (@GuyHaberman) May 25, 2016
Whether it’s a photo of Thompson staring intently at his phone that draws a hundred jokes about how he’s knee deep in his DMs, or one of the several humorous Durant-related quotes he’s uttered since the Warriors signed him on July 4 …
“We all want to see each other do well. But I’m not sacrificing [expletive], because my game isn’t changing.”
“I didn’t believe it at first when he told me, so I had to check my phone and verify it. I was like, ‘Seriously? KD really chose us?’ It was an incredible moment for our organization, and I was psyched. We had the final form of our team.
“And then I went back to sleep.”
… it seems like Thompson’s approval rating is phenomenally high.
Just take this innocent Vine I shot a few days ago.
The world Klay Thompson inhabits seems like fun https://t.co/ysM6hi8Lra
— Bay Area Sports Guy (@BASportsGuy) August 10, 2016
It wasn’t just the retweets/favorites that got me, it was the number of girls who quoted the tweet with some comment about how Thompson is their crush. Alright, maybe “most popular” is a step too far. If Durant’s game soars to new heights, he’ll get more attention than anyone else. And as long as there are school kids heaving halfcourters from their hips, Curry will probably continue to sell more jerseys than anyone else. Everybody and their mom is writing about how Thompson is going to be the one who has to sacrifice with Durant in tow. But Thompson, by letting everyone in a little more and being his normal, goofy self, may turn out to be the most lovable Warrior this season.