MNO Sports >Football World >Stephen Curry wishes Klay Thompson well as he mourns breakup of Warriors' historic backcourt

Stephen Curry wishes Klay Thompson well as he mourns breakup of Warriors' historic backcourt

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First paired in 2011, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson went on to become the most potent shooting backcourt in NBA history.

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LAS VEGAS — If any tears were shed in their last conversation, which unquestionably was deep and heartfelt, then it was the final time Steph Curry and Klay Thompson splashed together.

They are basketball brothers no more, with Thompson ending a partnership that produced four championships with the Warriors and multitudes of historic memories that enhanced the game.

He’s now in Dallas, joining the Mavericks in free agency, a decision that served as an escape from a recent Warriors past that frustrated him. But that decision also affected Curry, who finally had a chance to speak publicly Sunday about what it all meant — and means.

Curry took a break from Olympic preparations with Team USA to address — make that mourn — the breakup of a generational backcourt. He chose a specific word to describe the unwanted development:

“It (stinks).”

Curry and Thompson were together since 2011, sharing the same jersey but more importantly the same enviable skill — shooting from distance — that defined them as a duo. They’re the only teammates to combine for more than 600 3-pointers in a season (678 in 2015-16) and took turns competing with each other for 3-point feats. In 2018, Thompson made 14 from deep to beat Curry’s single-game record by one.

The sons of former NBA players, they were starting guards in an All-Star Game (2015) and are linked as much, if not more, than any two teammates in NBA history.

But it went beyond that. Curry, Thompson and Draymond Green defined the Warriors’ championship dynasty, and Curry perhaps naively thought they’d be attached forever, especially after Green signed an extension two summers ago.

“It’s one of those hard things to kind of process just because I never imagined this would kind of be the reality,” Curry said. “I always wanted to ride out in the sunset with those two guys and have an opportunity to stay relevant from a winning perspective while we did it.”

While Green never seriously entertained the thought of jumping ship, the signals surrounding Thompson were ominous. After missing two seasons with serious leg injuries, Thompson struggled to regain his form at both ends upon returning in 2021.

When the team refused to extend his contract two summers ago, it set in motion a possible departure with Thompson as a lame duck entering a walk year. Once he was dropped from the starting lineup during the 2023-24 season, the noise increased.

What lies ahead for Golden State with Klay Thompson off to Dallas?

Thompson was clearly unhappy and fretted not only over the season, but his future. Negotiations with the Warriors weren’t smooth. Thompson, searching for a new start, chose the new Western Conference champion Mavericks over the Lakers despite a plea from LeBron James.

“It’s kind of been a year-and-a-half long process where understanding where Klay was with the decision that was in front of him, where the team was at in terms of the extension offer,” Curry said.

“The negotiations that were going on, I knew most of the updates that were happening and wanted to make sure Klay had the right support in terms of making the decision that was best for him.”

Curry placed aside his selfish reasons — he wanted to keep Thompson — to realize those reasons weren’t in Thompson’s best interest.

“That’s what it came down to: he was in need of a change,” said Curry. “It wasn’t a situation where I needed to convince him to stay. I knew what he meant to our organization. It was just one of those situations where you have to trust he’s making the right decision for himself.

“At the end of the day I want him to be happy. He deserves to enjoy playing basketball however long he wants to play. It just (stinks) that it won’t be with us.”

Curry obviously carries heavy clout within the organization, yet he admitted to being told by Thompson not to flex it.

“Yeah,” Curry said. “Doesn’t mean I listened.”

In the end, it didn’t matter. Thompson’s mind was made up and his destination was settled.

A lesser breakup, but still a significant one for the Clippers, happened when Paul George left via free agency for the Philadelphia 76ers. Unlike the Splash Brothers, George and Kawhi Leonard had no championships to show for their partnership, which began when they became teammates in 2019.

Kawhi specifically asked the Clippers to trade for George that summer, and LA sent a haul that included future Kia NBA MVP finalist Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to Oklahoma City. Once that happened, Kawhi signed as a free agent, giving the Clippers a pair of two-way All-Stars. It instantly gave the Clippers a fresh identity after the dismantling of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin’s Lob City.

But the Kawhi-George regime was consistently wrecked by injuries to both players; Kawhi this spring once again couldn’t finish the season, ruining yet another optimistic run. The Clippers finished the last four seasons with one or both of their stars on the sideline.

The deepest the two managed to take the Clippers was the Western Conference Finals in 2021, and a knee injury to Kawhi in those playoffs sabotaged LA’s opportunity to advance.

Kawhi signed a 3-year, $150-million extension last January, but the team hesitated to give George a four-year deal because of long-term salary cap concerns. An All-Star for the ninth time, George shot a career-best 41% from deep last season while averaging 22.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.

He felt he deserved that fourth year. And when it wasn’t given, George declined his $48-million option year, bailed in free agency and went East.

Unlike Curry, who took the time to speak about Thompson, Kawhi, also on Team USA, refused to discuss the Clippers or George when given the chance Sunday in a media briefing.

“I’m not talking about any of that,” he said.

Then, 10 minutes later, he ducked back into the interview room with reporters to issue a clarification:

“Just want to let y’all know, I don’t have a problem with PG leaving.”

* * *

Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on X.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Warner Bros. Discovery.

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