Golden State shooting guard Klay Thompson has explained how meditation is key to his mental preparation for games and helps him deal with the pressures of NBA life.
NBA Finals: Toronto Raptors vs Golden State Warriors
- Game 1: Warriors @ Raptors – Friday, May 31, 2am
- Game 2: Warriors @ Raptors – Monday June 3, 1am
- Game 3: Raptors @ Warriors – Thursday June 6, 2am
- Game 4: Raptors @ Warriors – Saturday June 8, 2am
- Game 5 (if needed): Warriors @ Raptors – Tuesday June 11, 2am
- Game 6 (if needed): Raptors @ Warriors – Friday June 14, 2am
- Game 7 (if needed): Warriors @ Raptors – Monday June 17, 1am
- All games broadcast live on Sky Sports Arena
The Warriors sharpshooter craved a little calm.
He needed something more to balance out his basketball routine, so he added meditation to help him get centred before games and better deal with the pressures of NBA life. Flip on some classical music or nature sounds and he’s ready to relax his mind.
It takes consistent practice, just like that pretty jumper.
“I try to go 30 minutes,” said Thompson, who is joined for some sessions by bulldog bestie, Rocco. “It’s hard. It’s very hard. An hour would be nice, but you’ve got to work up to that.”
Klay Thompson reacts after hitting a three-pointer in Game 4 against the Clippers
Thompson is in a good place right now, going to a fifth straight NBA Finals and chasing a three-peat with the Golden State Warriors.
Two-time reigning Finals MVP Kevin Durant sat out injured for the entire Western Conference Finals, leaving Thompson and Splash Brother Stephen Curry to take on an even greater load on both ends.
Relive Golden State sharpshooter Klay Thompson’s best moments from the past four NBA Finals series
Thompson heads into Game 1 at Toronto on Thursday night averaging 19.1 points these playoffs, having scored 22.6 points per game in the five contests without Durant.
Mental preparation off the court is a major reason Thompson no longer lets things fester or bring him down, such as a tough loss or bad outing. He has said that earlier in his career it was hard to let go after games.
Now, he instead shrugs off a poor shooting performance with the simple notion of, “That’s the way the basketball gods can be.” Then, it’s back to work.
Thompson and Kevin Durant pictured during the 2018 NBA Finals
Left off the All-NBA team? “Oh, I didn’t?” he replied when told he hadn’t made the cut.
Thompson did allow himself a little eye roll in disbelief, before adding: “It is what it is. I can’t control it. Do I think there are that many guards better than me in the league? No, but that’s the reason why we’re still playing. So, I don’t even want to get into it, honestly.”
The more media shy, under-the-radar of Golden State’s sensational backcourt – Curry is a two-time MVP – a slumping Thompson once held his shooting hand up near his face and uttered “I missed you” when he finally got on a roll again at Portland on December 29.
He credits meditation in part for how far he has come in handling everything as he wraps up his eighth NBA season.
Klay Thompson hit 27 points in the first half of the Golden State Warriors’ Game 4 win over the Clippers
Thompson added meditation and visualisation into his routine the last couple of years. This is the typically stoic guard who plunged into the Pacific Ocean in Southern California before Game 4 of the first round against the Clippers following a performance that wasn’t up to his “standards.” He went out and scored 32 after that with six three-pointers, hitting his first seven shots.
“The mind is so powerful. Just try to train the mind to deal with adversity in situations that are unpleasant but make you better in the long run, that’s what I try to do,” Thompson said when asked how he got involved in meditation.
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“Just a lot of reading on the internet and learning from coach [Steve] Kerr. Learned from Tony Robbins, too. It was cool talking to him last year. He had a great outlook on things. Just from veteran players. David West taught me a lot about that side of the game, the mental part.”
Team-mate Shaun Livingston can picture Thompson in a moment of complete serenity and peace “100 per cent, nothing would surprise me.”
Klay Thompson set an NBA record by connecting on his first 10 three-point attempts in Warriors’ win over the Lakers
Dr Michael Gervais, a high-performance psychologist who has worked closely with the Seattle Seahawks, NBA players, USA Volleyball and other Olympic athletes, applauds Thompson taking up meditation on his own.
“So often we hold up world-leading athletes on a pedestal for their physical abilities, missing the deeper and extraordinary commitment they make toward pursuing their potential,” Gervais said. “There are only three things we can train as humans: our craft, our bodies, and our mind. World-class athletes don’t leave any of those up to chance. Why should the rest of us?”
Stephen Curry high-fives Warriors team-mate Thompson during Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals
When he had a couple of days off after the Warriors wrapped up the Western Conference Finals, Thompson noted, “I wish it was sunny” before adding, “A little overcast, but it’s all good.”
Thompson found out in April he will have his college jersey retired by Washington State, too.
Klay Thompson reflects on his 32-point performance against the Portland Trail Blazers
“Klay is always someone who everybody sort of marvels at his life, the simplicity of his life. He just needs a basketball and his dog, and that’s it. And we all laugh about it,” Kerr said. “But Klay is a lot deeper than people realise, so it doesn’t surprise me that he is meditating and he has found ways to calm himself before games and keep himself going during the season.”
The 29-year-old Thompson takes time the night before a game to think ahead. It doesn’t matter if he’s in the driveway or hanging out in his backyard with beloved Rocco, “just random,” he said.
Happy #NationalDogDay from @KlayThompson & Rocco! pic.twitter.com/8LTeliXNdn
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Sometimes he envisions each shot from a given spot on the floor that could present itself over the course of a game.
“Andre Iguodala told me that Tiger Woods visualises every single shot he shoots on 18 holes on the golf course, so if he can do that, that’s incredible,” Thompson said. “That’s so many golf swings. I try to do the same approach to basketball. I just try to visualise, get in my spots, what my opponent is going to do. Yeah, so when you come to the game, you’ve kind of seen it before.”
Thompson celebrates after hitting a series-clinching three-pointer in Game 6 against the Houston Rockets
He might go with some Mozart or Beethoven.
“Try to put on classical Pandora or some nature sounds. Can’t listen to rap or hip-hop when I do it because then I just get distracted. Something pleasant in the background, it’s nice,” Thompson explained. “It’s a challenge. It’s much harder than working out. Especially for me, I’ve got my mind racing. So it’s a good practice for me.”
Kerr considers Thompson one of the most down-to-earth NBA superstars.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr gives instructions to Thompson
“He’s a dream to coach. He’s zero maintenance,” Kerr said. “But he’ll surprise you with his depth. You may not think there’s a whole lot there, but there’s plenty there, he just sort of doesn’t let you in on it very often.”
Thompson knows it’s not a perfect science to get his shot back on track after a poor outing. Meditation provides a focus.
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“I still will have bad days once in a while, but that’s just being human,” Thompson said. “It’s something I’ve incorporated in my routine for at least the past season, especially when I was going through that shooting slump. That really helped me. It’s just nice to manifest things. Kind of like speak [things] into existence, just kind of think it into existence.”
Game 1 of the NBA Finals takes place in Toronto in the early hours of Friday morning (2am) live on Sky Sports Arena.
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