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Klay Thompson, Jordan Poole’s brotherly bond was the secret to Warriors success

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BOSTON — Every hug and hug was special for its own reason, as the final seconds ticked down the clock Thursday night at the TD Garden once it became official that the Warriors were champions once again, beating the Boston Celtics in six games during the NBA 2022 Finals.

One of the longest and strongest was Jordan Poole putting his face on Klay Thompson’s right shoulder, the two hugging. Ten years apart, an unbreakable bond and a lifetime of mentorship was showcased under the lights of a crowning achievement: the first championship for 22-year-old Poole and a fourth for 32-year-old Thompson.

“He took me under his wing and from the workouts together, from the texts to the chats and conversations in the locker room and the calls, it was really special to see someone who is as closed to himself,” Poole said after the podium. post game. . “He’s his own person, and for him to hug me at such a young age and take me under his wing, teach me his tricks and show me his model is really special, and I’m happy to be part of it.”

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With a towel draped over him to soak up the celebratory champagne and his championship hat resting on his blue headband, Thompson sent reporters a special message as he headed into his final interview of the season.

“Last interview of the night,” he said. “Man, I hate interviews! But I’m happy to be here. Man, this is great!”

Poole has his 90-second rule for interviews, which has faded as his star status has grown. Klay touches the table and often looks the other way while answering questions, even in his 11th year as a pro and ninth season when he took two years off due to injuries.

It’s the last place you want to be sometimes. Thursday night in Boston, they soaked it all up. As Poole said, Thompson can be himself. He is happiest in the water or on the hardwood. However, they are both gym freaks, basketball addicts always striving to take their game to levels many doubted they would ever reach.

Steve Kerr tried to warn us in the offseason. After returning from the G League bubble in Orlando, where he averaged more than 22 points per game, Poole, the former 28th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, returned as an all-new player for the Warriors this season. pass. He averaged 5.5 points before playing 11 games with the Guerreros de Santa Cruz and 14.7 after. Last summer, Poole’s second home was the gym.

His work ethic was never in question after being drafted by the Warriors. He also knew he was capable of more than he showed in his first two seasons as a pro. The work turned into results.

While Thompson continued to struggle to recover from the second of two grueling leg injuries that caused him to miss 2 1/2 years of his prime, Poole stepped into his starting role with ease this season. In 32 games played, 29 starts, before Thompson returned on January 9 from a 941-day hiatus, Poole averaged 17.5 points per game. He scored 20 points in the season opener and reached that mark 11 times before Klay’s return, including four games in which he dropped at least 30 points.

“With him going down earlier this year, just being able to take on that role, show what I’m capable of, and you know, essentially hang on until he comes back,” Poole said. “We got off to an 18-2 start, and I think that showed how talented we are.

“He has taught me a lot.”

The closer Klay’s return got, the more clear Kerr made it that Thompson wouldn’t come off the bench. He earned the right to hear his name in the starting lineup. That also brought false complaints of possible jealousy of Poole and a problem within the Warriors.

The truth is, even if Poole wanted to continue to start from the bottom like all true competitors, any feelings of animosity were far from the truth. Due to Poole’s rise this season, the dynamic between the two gained more attention. However, this is not something new for them.

Golden State drafted Poole a week after Thompson tore his ACL in Game 6 of the 2019 Finals. It was his first major injury and a new low for him on and off the court. There were countless dark days. For Poole, the Splash Brother was a shining light when the Michigan product was in trouble.

Klay even saw a younger version of himself when Poole was a rookie, trying to get his feet wet on a Warriors team that had lost Thompson to injury, Kevin Durant to free agency and Steph Curry to injury four games into the season. . The Warriors finished the regular season with the worst record in the NBA. Thompson made sure to be there to pick up Poole when he needed it most.

“When it comes to Jordan, that’s my tower,” Thompson told reporters after the Warriors won the Western Conference, beating the Dallas Mavericks in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals at the Chase Center. “I remember a couple of years ago when he was going through a shooting slump, he was really hard on himself. He reminded me of my younger self. I kept telling him, it’ll be worth it, boy, you’re going to play.” in the NBA Finals one day.

“I told him that on the bench, game three of the season when we were getting hammered. He was going through it as a 19-year-old rookie. Now for that to materialize, I mean, I’m very happy.” .”

Following Thomson’s return, Poole was put on the bench. Well, at least half the time. Poole played 44 games later with Klay back in the fold, but the younger shooting guard still started 22 more games with the Warriors keeping Thompson from playing back-to-back. And Poole only got better.

He averaged 19.2 points per game while shooting 45 percent from the field and 38.3 percent from 3-point range. He broke out in his first career playoff game, scoring 30 points in Game 1 against the Denver Nuggets and averaging 17.0 points per game while shooting 50.8 percent from the field and 39.1 percent from 3-point range during the games. playoffs.

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Thompson played 32 regular season games after completing his comeback. He had 41 points in the season finale against the New Orleans Pelicans and has scored 110 points in his last three games, averaging 20.4 points per game for the season. That gave him six straight seasons averaging at least 20 points per game.

Game 6 Klay then turned up against the Memphis Grizzlies, scoring 30 points at the Chase Center to advance to the conference finals. Exactly 1,099 days after returning to the Warriors uniform, Thompson is a four-time champion. On the way, he called the chance on him by predicting him to Poole. Jordan not only played in the Finals, but also had an important key to win his first ring.

They both grinded through the sewers in each of the last two seasons, with the only new thing on the other side. Their family brotherhood silenced all the naysayers and connects the future of this Splash Family.

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