SAN FRANCISCO — Through the silence of Chase Center’s hallways after the Warriors practice on Wednesday, someone broke out into song.
The singer? A spirited Klay Thompson, belting a rendition of “Fly Like an Eagle” by the Steve Miller Band on his way back to the team locker room after getting up some shots, alone, on the main court.
While the team hasn’t set a return date for Thompson — who’s missed more than two years recovering from ACL and Achilles tears — his teammates notice during scrimmages his confidence is higher than ever after all this time out of NBA action.
Juan Toscano Anderson said he felt pangs of embarrassment, he said, when Thompson scored on him with relative ease during a scrimmage two weeks ago.
“Klay is one of those dudes,” Toscano Anderson said on Wednesday after the Warriors practice. “I was like, ‘Man this dude just came off an injury for over a year and he’s competing.’ That goes to say, he looks like he hasn’t lost a step. Explosive. Can shoot the ball. I’m really excited to see him out there, as a fan and a teammate.”
Kevon Looney noted that Thompson “looks like himself” and gets to his shooting spots well.
“He’s always going to shoot the ball well, but he seems really confident in his body,” Looney said. “He’s going up for dunks. He’s playing physical and when you see that much confidence in him, it means he’s getting close to ready. It’s a joy to have in practice to have his energy back.”
Thompson is expected to make his anticipated return to the team sometime in January, likely for a home game on Jan. 9 against the Cleveland Cavaliers or on Jan. 18 against the Detroit Pistons. Thompson has participated in scrimmages with the Santa Cruz Warriors, Golden State’s G-League affiliate, and in scrimmages with his NBA teammates more recently.
Toscano Anderson said he hopes Thompson receives a four minute ovation, at least, when he returns to the court for the first time since Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors. The Oakland native noting Thompson’s legend in the Bay Area.
“I can imagine it will be one of those moments, like him scoring 37 points in a quarter or a game-winner. Just one of those special moments for Warriors fans,” he said. “Obviously he’s beloved by Warriors fans and the entire Bay Area. Klay is a legend here, and that’s coming from a true hometown kid. I can only imagine what it will be like to be like for the fans. I, myself, am excited to see him out there. That’s what sports are about, right?”
Added Looney of Thompson’s near return:
“I know it’s going to be crazy, but I don’t really know what to expect. It’s going to be a special moment for Bay Area fans, for us and for him. There will be a lot of emotions going on. It’s going to be a special moment and I can’t wait for it to happen.”
That he looks explosive as ever on the practice court excites them; the Warriors are sitting atop the Western Conference standings with one of their best weapons on the shelf. Toscano Anderson can only applaud Thompson’s mental fortitude through back-to-back career-altering injuries.
“That’s a hit, that’s a blow to you mentally, emotionally, spiritually,” he said. “I commend him and tip my hat to that man because he comes in here every day and does his work, and is mentally strong enough to be a good teammate, friend, and be vocal and interactive with us.”