SAN FRANCISCO— The moment might require a lengthy shooting routine. Or maybe intense training. Or maybe an in-depth movie session.
After all, the NBA playoffs require teams to seek every possible advantage in a competitive playoff series. After missing the past two and a half seasons with left ACL (2019-20) and right Achilles tendon (2020-21) injuries, Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson has surely followed this routine.
But as the Warriors enter Game 5 of their conference semifinal series against the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday (10 ET, DTT), Thompson also tried to find a healthy work-life balance to help maintain perspective during the Warriors playoffs.
“Balance is key, even during this time with the emotional roller coaster of the playoffs,” Thompson told NBA.com. “Whether it’s reading or going for a walk with your dog or a boat or bike ride. I try to think of simple things that make me happy.
Thompson has often tried to take advantage of these simple things during his nine-year NBA career. Warriors coach Steve Kerr also encouraged his players to “fill their cup”, a philosophy that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich first preached so players would avoid burnout during the season. long 82-game regular season and the NBA playoffs.
When you talk about work-life balance, he missed the job.
– Steve Kerr on Klay Thompson
In his first postseason since 2019, Thompson had highs with his first-round shooting performance against Denver (49.6% overall) and lows with his numbers against Memphis (36.3% overall). To stay balanced between good and bad games, Thompson looked for other outlets to occupy himself.
“A boat, and fishing, and being in the ocean is a great remedy for that stuff,” Thompson said. “There’s more to life than the Internet and NBA Twitter. You realize that you can’t bring work home all the time.
Thompson consumed much more enjoyable reading material than his clippings and gamebook. He immersed himself in basketball books, ranking David Halberstam’s “The Breaks of the Game” as the best book on the NBA. He just finished “Young, Black, Rich and Famous” by Todd Boyd, which details how the NBA and hip-hop have become more accepted by the mainstream. And he’s currently reading Sam Smith’s “Hard Labor,” which details the history between the NBA and the players’ union negotiations on labor issues.
Thompson also enjoyed books about the outdoors. He enjoyed “The Last of the Blue Water Hunters” by Carlos Eyles and the “Book of the Seven Seas” by Peter Freuchen.
After these reading sessions, Thompson then becomes inspired to enjoy the water.
He will often drive his Axopar 37 Cabin boat around the Bay Area on holidays and use it to commute to practices and games so he can enjoy the breeze outside instead of feeling frustrated with congested road traffic. . Thompson described this routine as “a soothing, surreal feeling” that lifts his spirits after poor performances and keeps him grounded after impressive outings. Before and after his outings, Thompson will also participate in a five- to ten-minute meditation session.
“It gives me a sense of release and freedom to be in this ocean, to smell the ocean air and see the city from the water,” Thompson said. “It added a whole new element to my life.”
During these boat rides, Thompson will often look for places to swim in order to keep his physical conditioning sharp. Although Thompson admitted that the water was “cold at times”, he considered it important to withstand the elements to help develop his mental toughness.
“It’s so rejuvenating to be in the Pacific and feel that salty water,” Thompson said. “It’s a soul purifier for me.”
Just like spending time with Rocco, her 10-year-old Bulldog. During rehab and conditioning, Thompson played tug of war with Rocco to help strengthen his arms. He considers Rocco a “great companion” as it pushes him to feel more compelled to visit local parks and hiking trails.
“He pulls me out and brings responsibility to my life,” Thompson said of Rocco. “He holds me accountable. It’s good to have a pet and it’s good to take care of someone.
Granted, Thompson still devotes a lot of time to his actual work. He stressed the importance of managing “all the little things”, including quality nutrition and sleeping habits. He watches all NBA playoff games for both movie study and entertainment. And he still maintained his shooting and weightlifting workouts on training days.
“He loves the game so much that the last two years have been really, really tough on him,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Now that it’s back, I think he feels his life is more balanced. When you talk about work-life balance, he missed work. He had life, but he was injured and he doesn’t couldn’t do what he loved, at work. I think he’s regained that balance, but I think it’s because he loves acting so much.
Because of this reality, the Warriors observed that Thompson sometimes pressed too hard or rushed shots in hopes of getting out of a slump. When that happened, the Warriors praised Thompson for changing up his shot selection and impacting the game with defensive hustle.
Thompson can thank his off-court habits for helping him maintain that mindset.
“It’s important to do other things to keep your mind busy and growing,” Thompson said. “The days become so routine and so methodical. I learned how important it is to expand your mind.
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Mark Medina is a senior writer/analyst for NBA.com. You can email him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.
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