Lakers analyst had an eye on the rookie opposite Kobe Bryant
As a radio and television analyst since the early 1990s, Mychal Thompson has watched thousands of players make the humdrum walk from the bench to the scorer’s table to check into NBA games.
This was different.
When Golden State’s rookie shooting guard walked onto the Staples Center court Friday night with 2 minutes, 16 seconds left in the first quarter of a game against the Lakers, Thompson’s stomach was aflutter.
Entering the game for the first time was his son, Klay.
Mychal said he was more nervous than he had been since he played for the Lakers in Game 7 of the 1988 NBA Finals against the Detroit Pistons.
“You control your own destiny when you’re out there playing,” said Mychal, the Lakers’ radio color commentator, “but when you’re watching your kid do anything, whether it’s singing or playing an instrument or giving a speech, you get a few butterflies inside, especially on a big stage like this.
“You just want to see him do well.”
Klay certainly did, scoring a career-high 14 points on six-for-eight shooting while at times going head to head with Lakers star Kobe Bryant. Klay made two of three three-pointers and eased his father’s worries when he made a 20-foot jumper only 20 seconds after entering the game.
After Klay continued to swish shots, Thompson said on the 710 ESPN broadcast, “He’s got that feeling, so the Warriors have got to keep going to him the way they used to go to Reggie Miller when he used to get hot.”
Alas, Golden State went away from its hottest shooter and faded in the final minutes of a 97-90 defeat, the Warriors’ fourth consecutive loss.
“I thought I had a good game,” said Klay, who made four of five shots in the second half, “but that’s offset because we took an ‘L.’ I could have had 40 [points] tonight and it doesn’t matter because we’re 2-5 now. We thought this weekend we could have gotten back to .500, so we have to regroup.”
Klay, a former Santa Margarita High and Washington State star, played 21 minutes against the Lakers in part because Warriors point guard Stephen Curry sat out with a sprained ankle. In a pregame father-son moment, Mychal gave Klay some advice culled from his 12-year NBA career.
“He said, ‘Be aggressive, find your shot and don’t let up and compete with everyone out there,’ ” Klay said. “He told me when I was guarding Kobe to just compete and that’s what I thought I did.”
Though Bryant finished with a season-high 39 points on 13-for-28 shooting, Mychal lauded his son’s defensive effort; Bryant scored the bulk of his points while being defended by other players.
“I thought he did really well, especially defensively moving his feet because we all know he can shoot,” Mychal said of Klay. “When he moves his feet very well defensively, he won’t get beat. He competed very well against a tough guy, the best in the world in Kobe Bryant. That’s what he has most to be proud of, the way he went head to head against Kobe.”
After the game, the Thompsons milled about with other Warriors players and their families behind one basket, catching up and reflecting on their newest memories.
Mychal won’t have much time to get wistful about broadcasting one of his son’s NBA games, though. Oldest son Mychel will come to Staples Center with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday after making the team as an undrafted rookie out of Pepperdine.
“To have these two guys make the league, realize their dream, is definitely a dream,” Mychal said. “I’m happier for them than when I was playing.”
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