After retiring due to injury in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Championship Series, Klay Thompson had a lot of time to think about things other than basketball. Using his reputation as a professional basketball player, the Golden State Warriors shooting guard began to speak out against racial discrimination and other social issues.
“I realize that as NBA players, our speeches are very important.” On Monday’s Warriors Media Day, Thompson said: “We can use this right of speech to do anything. But this opportunity has to be. It’s hard to come by. Perhaps we should pay more attention to social issues related to individuals and communities.”
“Some heads of state and leaders have less visibility and influence than ours. It is a great thing to be able to not only express their dissatisfaction, but also to justice for marginalized groups.”
Born in Los Angeles, Klay Thompson’s father is Bahamian-born former NBA center Mychal Thompson, and his mother Julie is a white female. Mychal Thompson was selected by the Portland Trail Blazers as the No. 1 pick in 1978, and then won two championships with the Lakers. In a twelve-year career, the veteran has played in 935 games, averaged 13.7 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, and earned more than $5 million in total.
When Klay was only two years old, the Thompson family – including Klay’s elder and younger brothers – moved to Lake Oswego, Oregon. At that time, the city was still a white majority, and black communities were very rare. When Klay was in high school, the Thompson family moved to Ladra Ranch in Orange County, California, which is also an upscale residential area dominated by whites. Klay said that he was very fortunate to be able to grow up in an advantageous environment while attending a private school.
“As the son of an NBA player, for most of my life, I spend most of my life with white people who are well-off, can go to college and become doctors and lawyers.” Thompson said: “But when I came to the NBA, I saw many teammates and other people. The team’s players come from low-income families, even Brazil’s slums, and they have to work very hard to improve their living standards.”
“But it’s very difficult. There are too many relatives and friends who want to rely on them. Whether it is neighbors in the neighborhood who grew up together or friends who went to school together, they will get into financial difficulties and find it difficult to protect themselves.”
However, even with his father’s wealth and prominence, Thompson still feels racial discrimination among his peer group, which is an overwhelmingly white majority.
“In private schools, there are usually fewer children of color.” Thompson said: “You will hear ignorant remarks, but I was not as affected by remarks as I am now. I was a child at the time and only treated those who were racially discriminatory. Words are the wind in my ears. I know this is a manifestation of ignorance, but I can only find ways to prevent people from saying that. It was not until I grew up that I gradually realized how much harm language can cause.”
“Such trauma will remain in my memory. Although it is not serious on me, many of my friends in the league have experienced discrimination. Some were stopped by the police because of their skin color, and some were checked in the store. It’s just because the shopkeepers don’t believe they can afford it. These stories broadened my horizons, and I began to emulate people who have been facing these issues for generations. I think 2020 has taught us that the world needs more love. We should listen to the story instead of judging preconceivedly, especially for people who have gone through so many hardships.”
Since entering the league, Thompson has been selected for five All-Star Games and is known as one of the greatest shooters in history. The three-time champion defender has always been low-key and reticent outside the court, showing only the image of a dog lover. However, in 2020, when the epidemic is overwhelming, Thompson, who was in a truce to recover from his wounds, witnessed the death of George Floyd and other incidents of police violence and injustice, so he began to actively pay attention to social justice.
After Floyd’s death, Warriors defender Juan Toscano-Anderson launched a peaceful protest march in his hometown of Oakland. Thompson and other teammates Stephan Curry, Kevon Looney and Damion Lee were all present in person on June 3 to support. Thompson also said that the parade deeply affected him.
“Juan Toscano-Anderson led everyone on the streets of Oakland. It is the most special memory of my year. He grew up in East Oakland. It was very difficult. We all know the atmosphere in that area. We followed him and his My friends, I have traveled all over the local community, one by one, the people who have been treated unjustly under police enforcement.”
“This may be my favorite moment of the year. I get a lot of strength from it. It’s a special feeling beyond reality.”