A decade ago, when Klay Thompson was playing basketball in Southern California at Santa Margarita Catholic High, his only thoughts were on trying to secure a college scholarship.
He had unclear visions of one day playing in the NBA and maybe even becoming an All-Star.
That Thompson dared to have such dreams and to have them come to fruition is all the more remarkable in his eyes because the Golden State Warriors guard is now a four-time All-Star.
This appearance is a little more special for Thompson because Sunday’s game at Staples Center is about 55 miles from his hometown, where those dreams began to form.
“Yeah, if you had told me 10 years ago, graduating high school, that I would be playing in the All-Star game in L.A., I probably wouldn’t have believed you,” said Thompson, who also competed in the three-point contest Saturday night. “Especially being in my hometown and being able to compete in the three-point contest and play in the All-Star game, it’s really a dream come true.
“I was very blessed and fortunate enough to go to a lot of games at Staples Center growing up. Now, to be participating, it’s really a dream.”
It was not as if Thompson was a slouch in high school.
He averaged 21 points a game as a senior. He set a finals record in the 2008 state championships by making seven three-pointers. He was the Division III state player of the year.
His high school coach, Jerry DeBusk, acknowledged that he was just trying to prepare Thompson to play at Washington State and that no one was thinking beyond college.
“When I think about Klay or I go watch him play, I reflect back on when he was in high school, and I didn’t get the inclination back then that he was going to be where he is now,” said the now-retired DeBusk. “I know how hard he’s worked and how much time he’s put in, but it’s just amazing to me to see how successful he’s been and all of the things that have happened for him.”
Klay’s father is the gregarious Mychal Thompson, a former No. 1 overall pick by the Portland Trail Blazers who won two NBA championships with the Lakers.
Mychal saw the potential in Klay, but the senior Thompson let his son forge his own identity during his formative years.
“He was just hoping to be a good high school player,” said Mychal Thompson, an analyst on the Lakers’ radio broadcasts. “He never thought too far ahead. He just stayed in the moment, thinking about being a good high school player, get a scholarship to go to college and then he just wanted to be a good college player once he got there. I always thought he had the ability to get to the NBA, but he never really talked about it.”
Klay Thompson’s basketball life has gone farther than he could have imagined.
He has won two NBA championships with the Warriors. He has twice been named to the All-NBA third team (2015, 2016). He has won gold medals playing for Team USA in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and in the 2014 world championships in Spain.
Being an All-Star again is another accomplishment.
“Anytime you’re in the All-Star game, it’s a huge honor,” Thompson said. “Like I said, you’ve just got to reflect on what it took to get you to this point. I’m very grateful to be here and I can’t wait. It’s going to be so much fun. I’m going to have all my family and friends there. That should be a huge entertainment spectacle.
“It’s really the pinnacle of professional basketball to be on the floor with that many amazing future Hall of Famers and All-Stars,” he said. “It’s a real special, special thing.”