THE nearly week-long celebration of the Thompson family and their prowess on the NBA hardwood continued as the Government of the Bahamas hosted a reception in their honour.
The Thompson trio, Mychal “Sweet Bells” – the former No.1 overall selection and two-time champion, Klay – 2015 NBA champion, and Mychel – the 2015 NBA Developmental League champion, were honoured at a welcome reception hosted by the Government of the Bahamas at the Melia Nassau Beach Resort on Tuesday night.
An NBA title capped a breakout season for Klay in his fourth year with the Golden State Warriors, which included All-Star and All-NBA Third Team selections, 21.7 points per game, and an NBA record 37 points in a single quarter (52 for the game) against the the Sacramento Kings back in January.
For him, this trip was different as he came back as an NBA champion.
“I can’t thank the people of Nassau and the entire Bahamas enough. It’s a pleasure to be here. It’s always great to come back to the Bahamas. I’ve been doing that since I was a baby and it’s even better to come back after winning the Larry O’Brien trophy,” he said.
“I never thought I would be in this position, so early in my career at 25-years-old. To be drafted, participate in the All-Star game and win a championship, it’s tremendous. Obviously it’s not the same without my grandmother and grandfather being here, but I know they would be proud of me being here.”
The group made their customary appearance at the annual Jeff Rodgers Summer Basketball Camp, something that Klay said he looks forward to each year and is a part of giving back to their heritage that has always been stressed by their father.
He also joked about the basketball comparisons between the two.
“I do respect my parents, but the only thing I don’t respect is my father’s jump shot, when we played one on one I would just sit in the key. But I have to thank him for everything, he taught me and my brother everything we know about the game. People don’t think that because we play so differently, but he has made my brother and I better players.”
Prime Minister Perry Christie offered his personal congratulations to the achievements of the Thompsons which have now spawned two generations.
“Countries try to recognise people who have made it. And it is important to the ethos of our country that our characteristics that combine us together as one, for us to pay tribute to those we are connected to who have brought glory and fame and reputation and meaning and definition to our country,” he said.
“In addition to having the sporting prowess and reputation that was made on the basketball court, he distinguished himself with his conduct, eloquence and by his being distinctly Bahamian. That in itself deserves the highest commendation for those of us who are in the leadership of our country.”
With the spotlight of NBA stardom, he encouraged Klay to become an ambassador for the country and an example to young Bahamians like his father did decades before.
“You have few father-son combinations that have achieved this. Your father set an extraordinary example on and off the court. We expect that in today’s world, notwithstanding all the challenges faced by young men, you would do the same. You were brought up well,” he said. “Every young Bahamian looking at Klay will say I want to be like him. I want to do the things he his doing and the way he is doing it, with grace and charm. It is a wonderful aspiration to have, to look at someone who has made it and say ‘I aspire to be like them’. So long as they know it is no shortcut and a tremendous amount of discipline is necessary.”
An avid Los Angeles Lakers fan, Christie took the opportunity to admonish the younger Thompson to follow in his father’s footsteps and one day continue his career with the Lakers’ franchise.
“When Sweet Bells was in high school in Florida, we began to read and hear about him, when he was drafted No.1 in the NBA he put himself in the clouds. He went to play for Portland, but it’s not until he went to play for my team. It was when he came to play for our team that he became the star that he was,” he said. “Because he was playing in the right place, with the right people at the right time and the rest was history.”
The celebration continues tonight as the Mychal “Sweet Bells” Thompson Boulevard will be commissioned at 7pm.
The route stretches from Thompson Boulevard at the entrance of the new Thomas A Robinson National Stadium and covers the road that extends to the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium.
Immediately afterwards, they will participate in the celebrity All-Star game at the Kendal Isaacs Gym, which highlights the “Fun Night” of the aforementioned Jeff Rodgers camp.