Klay Thompson’s Warriors journey comes full circle with return to NBA Finals

“I’m going to soak this in tonight,” he said, grabbing his gray hat with three words — 2022 NBA Finals — emblazoned across the front. “I can’t believe it. I really can’t believe it.”

TNT analyst Ernie Johnson appeared ready to ask another question, but Thompson was done with the interview. The magnitude of the moment was too much. As Thompson stood on that stage in a white T-shirt proclaiming the Warriors “’21-22 WESTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPS,” his mind drifted toward some of the toughest days of his 2½-year hiatus from basketball.

The monotonous strength-building exercises in isolation. The practices with Golden State’s G League affiliate where Thompson missed open jumper after open jumper. The times he arrived at workouts in a foul mood because he just couldn’t take being away from NBA games any longer.

“The low moments make the high moments so much sweeter,” Thompson said. “That’s what I’ve learned.”

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As Thompson reflected on all he endured to reach this point, it dawned on him: This time last year, he was starting to jog again after a lengthy rehab from a torn Achilles tendon. Now, fresh off a masterful performance in the Warriors’ series-clinching Game 5 win over the Mavericks in the West finals, Thompson is back at the sport’s summit.

More than 1,000 days have passed since he came down awkwardly on a dunk attempt in Game 6 of the 2019 Finals and tore…

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