HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The best 12 minutes in NBA history.
Bold, I know.
But how else would you describe Klay Thompson‘s NBA-record 37-point third quarter in the Golden State Warriors’ win over the Sacramento Kings last night at Oracle Arena? The greatest scorers in league history — Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan, George Gervin, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Reggie Miller and so many others — never put on the sort of display Thompson did against the Kings.
His backcourt ‘mate Stephen Curry, the man who toppled LeBron James and led all players in All-Star Game voting, has never done it. (Oh, and if the Western Conference coaches don’t see fit to put Thompson in as a reserve, I’m calling for a non-violent protest until he is added to the mix!)
This was a historic shooting display of epic proportions, one that goes down as one of the purest exhibitions of shooting brilliance any of us have seen. I was jumping around watching it from 3,000 miles away.
And to think the Warriors actually entertained thoughts of trading Thompson last summer for Kevin Love and others (Steve Kerr‘s best move since joining the franchise as coach might very well be his push back on those trade ideas … from one shooter to another). Resisting the urge to do something dramatic has paid off handsomely for the Warriors, who sit atop the Western Conference standings and along with the blazing-hot Atlanta Hawks, form the most surprising 1-2 punch of league leadership at this stage of the season that I’ve seen in all my years covering the NBA.
After taking in the Hawks’ franchise-record 15th straight win Friday night at Philips Arena, a manhandling of Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder, I foolishly assumed the fireworks were over for the night. But James Harden (check the Horry Scale) took care of the Suns in dramatic fashion and #Klaymazing happened.
The Highlight Master himself, NBA.com and NBA TV’s Beau Estes, was in the middle of the madness at Headquarters and was kind enough to share the view from inside:
I first became aware that Klay Thompson had unilaterally decided to set fire to the NBA-record book after heading back to my desk from the NBA.com voiceover booth. It was this tweet from the Golden State Warriors that made me stop…rub my eyes… reread the content… then promptly march over to the highlights area for NBA TV.
“Maybe we just start in the 3rd Quarter with Klay going off” was my gentle as a Caribbean breeze suggestion to our Highlight Supervisor in charge, Mike Kaplan.
From there I calmly walked back into the voiceover booth to record the track for the Houston win over Phoenix thinking I wouldn’t see anything better than James Harden’s crossover then game over finish against the Suns.
By the time I got back to my desk, Klay’s scoring total was in the mid 20’s and he still hadn’t missed a shot. The normal, assignment based viewing interests that tend to sprinkle through our video production area had been temporarily suspended as all of the televisions had been hurriedly locked onto the Warriors broadcast.
From there I remember a varied series of takes on this basic disbelief/exclamation sequence “No way… Oh my god! He hit another one!” After that, some audible musings on what records were currently being set and how we should address those.
By the time Thompson hit his eighth 3-pointer of the quarter, the atmosphere at NBA Digital in Atlanta had devolved into complete chaos. Everyone was 12 years old again and just screaming at the television that was beaming in basketball miracles from 2,000 miles away.
Soon after, when Thompson was subbed out with 9:27 left in the fourth quarter, I saw something I’ve never seen prior in my 20 years at Turner Sports. All of the loggers and editors in a cold video production facility on the East Coast were calmly, almost out of respect, standing and clapping; cheering on a man who was being treated to a raucous roar of approval in Oracle Arena a cross-country journey away from where these people were tasked with putting together the highlights of this game.
In the end, the video recap of the game broke with the normal form as well. Our editorial team showed every single Klay Thompson basket in the third quarter … and that was it. That was all that anyone needed to see.
Thompson had singlehandedly dispensed with all prior basketball logic and, in doing so, he had won the game for the Warriors. Golden State had arrived on the court in the 3rd Quarter with a five point lead over the Sacramento Kings, but when Thompson’s singular performance was over 12 minutes later, so was the game and therefore, so was our highlight of a night and a performance that anyone involved with will not soon forget.