What happened to Game 6 Klay?

Thompson typically dazzles in playoffs, Lakers contain him



Former WSU basketball player and current NBA player Klay Thmpson waves a shirt above his head during the basketball game against OSU Saturday afternoon at Beasley Coliseum. Thompson had his jersey retired during halftime, becoming the second player to have his jersey retired as a Cougar.

SAM TAYLOR, Evergreen sports co-editor

Klay Thompson had a reputation.

The former Coug who has spent his decade-plus NBA career with the Golden State Warriors was a key contributor to the Dubs’ four championships in eight years dynasty, thanks in part to elite performances in the sixth game of playoff series.

However, in his most recent Game 6 against LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers Friday, “Game 6 Klay” went away.

He first forged the infamous “Game 6 Klay ” identity in the 2016 Western Conference Finals in which he hit 11 3-pointers to stay alive against the Oklahoma City Thunder and force a Game 7.

Thompson himself embraces the “Game 6 Klay” identity, posting to his Instagram story pictures that matched rappers Jay-Z and Kanye West’s lyrics after the Warriors beat the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2022 Western Conference semifinals behind Thompson’s 30 points and eight 3-pointers in Game 6.

“Psycho, I’m liable to go Michael, take your pick. Jackson, Tyson, Jordan, Game 6.”

“Game 6 Klay is still Game 6 Klay” teammate Draymond Green said on his podcast The Draymond Green Show after the series win over the Grizzlies in 2022. “Klay really believes that now. Like in his head, he’s like, ‘It’s Game 6, of course, I’m going to do this, are you crazy?’… And he believes Game 6 Klay is a real thing, and guess what, if Killa Klay believes it, then I believe it.”

In their fifth consecutive NBA Finals in 2019, the Warriors faced a 3-1 game deficit of their own against the Toronto Raptors.

Missing star player Kevin Durant to an Achilles injury in Game 5 and facing elimination, Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals took on a whole new significance.

Much to the pleasure of the Oakland, California crowd, Game 6 Klay had come to play. With two-and-a-half minutes remaining in the third quarter, Thompson had already posted 28 points while making two-thirds of his shots and sinking four 3-pointers.

With the Warriors up by three late in the third, Thompson suffered an injury as he took the ball to the rim.

He reentered the game to attempt his two free throws, making both and raising another dominant Game 6 performance to 30 points.

With Thompson out, the Raptors took advantage and won the game and the series. The Steph Curry and Thompson-led Warriors had lost their second NBA Finals.

Durant left Golden State several months later as Thompson faced a long road to recovery.

He triumphantly returned over two years later and seemed to have not missed a beat as the Warriors won the 2022 NBA Finals behind Thompson’s 17 points per game average.

Entering the 2022 Finals, Thompson averaged 1.5 more points per game in Game 6 than any other playoff game.

Thompson’s 3-point percentage in each of his career Game sixes is nearly 9% higher than any other playoff game he played in (49.5% versus 40.2%), according to SBNation.

In Game 6 of the 2022 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics, Thompson scored 21 points off a 50% shooting night (7-for-14) and hit five 3-pointers.

In Game 6 against the Sacramento Kings in the first round of the 2023 NBA playoffs, Thompson was solid yet again as he posted 22 points (8-for-20, 2-for-9 from three).

However, in Game 6 against LeBron and the Lakers Friday, the “Game 6 Klay” NBA fans had come to love (or hate) was nowhere to be found.

Thompson posted 8 points as he hit just three of his 19 shots and was 2-for-12 from beyond the arc.

The Lakers had an answer for anything Thompson attempted and he certainly did not do himself any favors as his shots were short and he looked flat-out tired.

“I obviously wish I would’ve shot the ball much more efficiently. Probably had the worst shooting series I’ve had in a long time,” Thompson said postgame. “At the end of the day, though, I’m still on contract with the Dubs, and I’m going to use it for fuel to be better come next postseason.”

Thompson is due to make over $43 million in the 2023–24 season and is eligible for a contract extension. Thompson may take a pay cut similar to the extent that teammate Andrew Wiggins did last year. Wiggins saw his $33.6 million payday reduced to $24 million in 2022–23 and $26 million in the 2023–24 season, according to NBC Sports.

Thompson’s journey is incredible. After suffering not one, but two career-threatening injuries in a two-year span, one of the finest 3-point shooters the NBA has ever seen worked his way back to form.

The Warriors were always a threat to repeat as Champions, but an inconsistent regular season in which they did not sustain a lot of success winning on the road led the Warriors to win just 44 games in 2023, their lowest win total in a season in which Curry, Thompson and Green have each been healthy.

Thompson after all, is second to his Splash Brother Curry in all-time 3-pointers made in the playoffs with 501.

As common of any post-championship year slump, players’ futures are in question and management’s future are in question too with Bob Myers, Warriors president of basketball operations, contemplating not returning to the team when his contract expires in June.

While the organization will change, the historic big three of Curry, Thompson and Green do not appear to be going anywhere.

Thompson’s story is far from over. But basketball fans will have to wait at least another year to see if “Game 6 Klay” returns.