The dominance of the Golden State Warriors this season has sparked debate among current and former NBA players and Bahamian basketball icon Mychal Thompson recently weighed in on the discussion.
Thompson appeared as a guest on the “The Doug Gottlieb Show” on Fox Sports Radio and made a surprising revelation to some as one of the few players from a previous era to admit the Warriors would have the advantage over his former team.
Thompson won back-to-back NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1987 and 1988, but said his son Klay and this edition of the Warriors would have the advantage in the hypothetical matchup.
“[The talent level] It’s way better now. We had 7-8 guys; the Warriors can go 10-11 deep and they may not score a lot of points, but these guys know how to play,” he said, “They’re very versatile; they can beat you inside and outside. They don’t have a Kareem posting up in the middle, but hey, Kevin Durant can post up, Klay can score in the post, Draymond can get points in the lane, so they don’t have a classic post up player but they know how to do it and our Laker teams couldn’t shoot like the Warriors can so to me this Warriors team would beat us.”
Thompson’s former teammate and architect of the “Showtime” Lakers offence, Magic Johnson, recently said his Lakers would sweep the Warriors in a best of seven series.
Johnson, now the Lakers team president, was speaking at an event which also featured the head coach for “Showtime,” Pat Riley, now the president of the Miami Heat.
Other former players, including Julius Irving, Rasheed Wallace, Richard Hamilton and Raja Bell have all made headlines, giving voice to the notion that teams from previous eras remain superior to teams of today – the Warriors in particular.
Thompson, in his unique position as a member of the Lakers, but a son who currently plays for the Warriors has been one of the few dissenting voices.
Prior to the start of the Finals, through 12 postseason games, Klay was averaging 14.4 points per game on 38 percent shooting from the field and 36 percent shooting from three and taking about five fewer shots than he did during the regular season.
His struggles continued in game one of the Finals, but his numbers improved dramatically in games two and three.
The elder Thompson said that heading into a possible closeout game five, it’s all a matter of adjustment and getting involved early in the offence.
“I think the last couple of games he got scoring early. When he gets involved early he gets into a rhythm and like Klay always says when he sees the first few shots go down it helps you to relax and just play your game,” he said, “Before that, from what I was watching he was standing around too much, not touching the ball often enough in the first quarter. Last couple of games he got involved early, shots have fell for him and it helped him get into a rhythm throughout the game.”
Thompson also addressed rumors of Klay’s supposed unhappiness with his role on the team since they added former league MVP Kevin Durant to the roster last offseason.
“When you talk to those people who question whether Klay is happy in the Bay playing with these teams and those superstars. Ask those same people would they like to average 25 points per game, win 42 games and be out in the first round of the playoffs or not make the playoffs and not make the Finals or play with other All-Stars, future Hall of Famers, average a little bit less and have a chance to win multiple rings.”
The former No.1 overall selection in the 1978 NBA Draft, Mychal Thompson had his best statistical seasons with the Portland Trailblazers, including the 1981-82 campaign when he averaged a double-double with career bests, 20.8 points and 11.7 rebounds per game.
He saw a reduced role once he was traded to the Lakers, but has said the experience of playing for a contender and winning NBA titles supersedes individual accolades.
“You can ask any young player in the league today who is maybe the face of their franchise and ask if they would like to change places with Klay. They’re watching the Finals, probably will be watching for years to come. They’re averaging a lot of points, but they won’t feel this excitement and opportunity to win rings. I bet you 9-10 of them would trade places with Klay,” he said, “Anybody that has that argument they don’t understand winners like Kevin McHale, winners like James Worthy, winners like Scottie Pippen or Joe Dumars, guys that won multiple rings but didn’t have to be the so-called face of the franchise. Klay is going to make enough money to last 10 lifetimes. When you get to this level, the only thing that matters is winning, winning, winning and the people that question that I question their values in life.”
Game five of the NBA Finals tips off tonight at 9pm. The Warriors hold a 3-1 lead as the best of seven series shifts back to Oracle Arena in Oakland, California.