Sunday, January 25, 2015

Standing on Squared Up Shoulders: Klay Thompson

Golden State Warriors' shooting guard Klay Thompson knows a thing or two about shoulders. When he was asked how he scored 37 points in the 126-101 win over the Sacramento Kings, he didn't say a lot, except for "I always square up my shoulders to get a good shot." Thompson, who was nine for nine at the 3-point line and thirteen for thirteen on shots taken, stands on some tall shoulders. His father, Mychal Thompson was the first foreign born player to be drafted as the number one pick in the NBA. And both father and son, know that their success can be attributed to the same man, a man whose shoulders are very broad, a man who made many sacrifices, a man no longer with us but still living in two dreams that came true: Mr. DeWitt Thompson.
Before two famous foreign born players, Hakeem Olajuwon & Yao Ming,
Mychal Thompson was the #1 pick in the NBA Draft.
Learning about the Thompson family history in "Klay Revealed" raised important questions for me. I thought about the simplicity, trust and humility of DeWitt Thompson and wondered: What is parents stopped making sacrifices for their children? What if parents determined that their own wants and needs were more important than those of their kids? What would the world look like?

I ask these questions, because I don't think we should ever take for granted that people will do so. You could make an argument that we are programmed to care for our young—is it in our DNA? I hope so. But to the hard work, the vision that looks out rather than in, the risks and demands of truly putting others before ourselves may also work against some of us. St. Augustine said that "Grace builds on nature." If we have prioritized our own needs and wants—for reasons of pride and ego, self-preservation, bad example and/or pleasure, it can be very tough to change our ways, especially when it gets interrupted 24/7 by someone who expects nothing less.

Okay...that's a little heavy. 

The good news is that some good deeds do go unpunished! When the Lakers won the NBA Championship in 1987, Mychal honored his father by giving him his ring. DeWitt wore that everyday until he died in 2013, at 94 years of age. And upon revisiting the Thompson family roots in Nassau, Bahamas, Klay said "I feel a sense of gratitude toward my grandfather that I have never felt before. I realize now that So much of my success, is owed to him." His dad, Mychal responded by hugging Klay and his younger brother Trayce as they stood over DeWitt's grave. He added, "You guys wouldn’t be where you are today. He let me go to the US to pursue my dream. Goodbye grandpa. We love you and we miss you. We always thinks about you."

Gratitude begets gratitude. In Klay's appreciation for his grandfather, he also recognizes the gift of his own father. In talking about Mychal a two-time NBA champion, Klay said "Some people say he was lucky, but I think he was brave. He set out on an unknown journey to become a great basketball player. His journey proves one thing. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, but where you are going and when you get there, it’s never by yourself.
We are all witnesses
Klay's right. His teammates understood that something very special was happening during the third quarter. Realizing he was in the "flow channel," they wanted to get him the ball. Draymond Green laughed as he said "I almost turned over the ball a couple times trying to get the ball to Klay." He added, "I'm honored to be out there on the floor, just to witness that." Basketball fans and Warriors fans in particular are honored to witness that too. Please know who had a hand in making it all possible...

Photo Credits
Father and Son
Witnesses

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