Klay Thompson And The Barbershop Effect
(originally written 4/14/15)
I call it the barbershop effect, henceforth abbreviated to BE.
BE strikes most commonly among older sports fans who are trying to convey the greatness of (insert player/team) to younger fans who weren't around to see for themselves. Such discussions are prevalent in—but not limited to—urban barbershops, which is partially why I no longer patron urban barbershops—the logical, fact-based sports fan in me can't sit through inaccurate hyperbole without serious risk of seizure.
(Last visit: 2003. Joe The Barber in Vallejo; they did me up with a fade for the ages. But I'm not here to talk about the past.)
As the years pass, legends grow to the point of near-absurdity. "Kobe good, you right. But he ain't never won no 10 championships like Jordan! Nuh-uh. Jordan played the whole YEAR with a broke leg once and they still won. They just gave him Gatorade and he went out there and scored 79 points! I saw it happen!" (Cue spirited argument)
The barbershop effect, ladies and gentlemen.
As we Warriors fans kill time waiting for the Conference Semis to begin, let's take a moment to reflect on Klay Thompson's mind-blowing 37-point quarter vs. Sacramento three months ago (has it been THAT long?! Wow.) And by reflect on, I mean undo the BE already coating Thompson's performance like flies on rotting meat.
Klay was amazing all on his own that night—he doesn't need anybody claiming he "coulda had 50 if the refs had been callin' fouls right" or "they wasn't passin' him the ball for the first five minutes" or "that coach was tellin' him not to shoot but he shot it anyway!"
The barbershop effect—part-imagination, part-hallucination.
Let's go through all of Klay's touches that quarter, and dispel every instance of BE one-by-one...
EXAGGERATION: The Warriors trailed the Kings 51-12, and four of the 12 were accidentally scored by the Kings.
FACT: The third quarter opened with Golden State up 56-51.
EXAGGERATION: Klay could have had four more points early in the quarter; he rose to shoot once but his own teammate stole the ball from him. Soon after, Klay was wide open on a fastbreak but Draymond Green threw the pass into the 17th row.
FACT: Klay rose to shoot but opted to pass mid-air. The fastbreak pass was dead on, caught by Klay, but stripped.
EXAGGERATION: Klay shakes Ben McLemore so badly his shoes come off, then stops and pops a J while tripping over said shoes.
FACT: Klay went to the left around McLemore for a simple stop-and-pop in the lane. (2 Klay points in the quarter)
8:30 remaining, 61-60 GS
EXAGGERATION: Klay jumps at least five feet in the air to steal a Derrick Williams pass in the right corner while facing backwards, brings it up and drills a 37-footer from straight on.
FACT: Klay did go high to deflect, then steal the pass—but not five feet—brought the ball up and drilled from the top of the arc. (5 points)
7:50 remaining, 63-62 GS
EXAGGERATION: Klay spends an entire possession wide open in the corner as teammate Stephen Curry is double-teamed. Curry ignores Klay's pleas for the ball, drives thru the double team and airballs a layup.
FACT: Klay was wide open, but only after Curry's drive already started—Klay's man McLemore fell asleep, but Sac came away unscathed when Curry missed a banker.
7:25 remaing, Sac up 64-63
EXAGGERATION: Sacramento misses a corner 3; Klay gets the rebound, runs upcourt and drills a 3 with 21 still on the shot clock and three dudes draped on him.
FACT: Sac missed a corner 3, Curry got the ball and passed to Klay on the left wing. Open, Klay sank a 3 with 17 on the shot clock. (8 points)
6:10 remaining, tied at 66
EXAGGERATION: Klay swats the daylights out of 6'11" Williams, knocks over his own man Harrison Barnes for the loose ball, lobs it to himself from the three-point line and slams it home. The referees are so shocked, they fail to call history's most flagrant travel.
FACT: Barnes actually blocked Williams, recovered the ball, dished to Curry, who fed Klay a lob over tiny Darren Collison. (10 points)
5:45 remaining; Kings coach Tyrone Corbin subs in Nick Stauskas for an overmatched McLemore.
5:35 remaining, 69-66 GS
EXAGGERATION: Klay fights his way through an off-ball triple team (astoundingly illegal, mind you), gets a pass from Curry on the wing, and drills a three in Stauskas' face so bad that it knocks him into the first row somehow.
FACT: Klay got a pass from Curry on the wing, dribbled briefly, rose over a surprised Stauskas and buried the three. No one fell in any row, at least no one on the court. (13 points)
5:12 remaining, 71-66 GS
EXAGGERATION: After a snarling Klay literally rips the ball from Kings center DeMarcus Cousins' hands, he brings the ball up, and crosses over Stauskas so bad that he splits his shorts and jersey. Not wanting to hog the ball, he passes to Draymond Green but it hits him in the nose and bounces back to Klay, who nails a 30-footer in exasperation.
FACT: Klay brought the ball up, dribbled around a Bogut pick on Stauskas, and dished to Green. Green returned the favor, and Klay sank a 26-foot heat check. (16 points)
4:35 remaining, 74-66 GS
EXAGGERATION: Quincy Miller knocks Klay over and steps on his junk in route to the basket. As Klay writhes in pain, the ref—clearly a Kings fan—whistle Klay for fouling Miller's foot with his genitals.
FACT: Klay legitimately fouled Miller, his third personal. One more, and he's through for a while. But Klay kept his hands clean for the rest of the quarter.
4:21 remaining, 74-68 GS. Ray McCallum subbed in by Sac to guard Klay.
EXAGGERATION: Justin Holiday of Golden State has the ball; he feeds Klay in stride as the latter races upcourt at 100 mph after tying his shoe and that of a courtside fan. In one motion, Klay receives the ball on the left wing, and drills a three off the wrong foot. With the wrong hand.
FACT: Klay went around a light Green pick, was fed by Holiday, and took advantage of a sliver of daylight to sink a 3 in motion. With the proper hand. (19 points)
3:30 remaining, 77-68 GS.
EXAGGERATION: Andrew Bogut feeds Klay on the left baseline; all five Kings converge on him. But Klay is so intelligent—he realizes right away that this strategy will leave four teammates open. Just in time, he whips a left-handed pass through McCallum's legs and Miller's legs to Green for a basket underneath.
FACT: Bogut fed Klay on the baseline; he dribbled and whipped the pass on a line to Green for the layup.
3:07 remaining, 79-70 GS.
EXAGGERATION: Curry, steaming at his lack of shots, angrily lasers the ball to Klay from five feet away. No problem—Klay hauls it in, uses teammate David Lee like a lead blocker, and goes up for 3 from the right wing. The ball hits the rim and rolls onto the top of the backboard—but not over. After spinning in place for ten seconds, Klay blows it down and it goes in. Warriors announcer Bob Fitzgerald can only spout unintelligible gibberish for five full seconds.
FACT: Curry wanted to feed his hot teammate, who got the ball, a little room from a Lee pick, and a friendly off-rim, off-glass roll for 3. An excited Fitz did begin to go a bit hoarse, but was still coherent. (22 points)
2:40 remaining, 82-70 GS.
EXAGGERATION: Klay receives a pass from Green a few feet past halfcourt. He gives the slightest pump-fake and two Kings are practically climbing each other's back to disrupt him, even though he's 37 feet out. He simply goes around them for a layup over all three other Kings.
FACT: Green passed to Klay, stationed about 27 feet out at the top of the arc. With Darren Collison playing tight as to dissuade a 3 attempt, Klay takes him all the way to the basket for two. (24 points)
2:12 remaining, 84-70 GS.
EXAGGERATION: Curry steals a bad Sacramento pass and reluctantly passes to an open Klay upcourt. Klay channels Michael Jordan by protruding his tongue as he settles at the line and drills another 3. He then shimmies in honor of deposed coach Mark Jackson, even throughout the ensuing timeout.
FACT: Curry stole a bad pass, headed upcourt, and uncorked a brilliant underhand lefty pass to Klay on the right wing. Klay sank the transition 3—only then did the tongue come out for a few seconds as the shellshocked Kings called timeout. (27 points)
1:45 remaining, 87-70 GS.
EXAGGERATION: Klay gets an outlet pass along the left sideline, where all five Kings again wait for him. He crosses the court and passes the defense at the top of the arc. He hesitates and, just to show off, buries a sky hook over Miller from the right elbow. Fitzgerald: "WHAT THE HELL?! ARE YOU F----- KIDDING ME?! I'M GONNA PISS MY PANTS, JIM!!"
FACT: Klay got the outlet pass and headed up the sideline. He passed two Kings at the top of the arc, hesitated, and made a standard J over Miller from the elbow. Fitz: "OH, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!" (29 points, and a new-career-high 42 for the game)
1:15 remaining, 89-70 GS.
EXAGGERATION: Klay rejects two Sacramento bigs inside, then heads to the left corner where he's eventually fed the rock. He cuts all the way to the basket, decides that's too easy, then backpedals all the way back to the corner to sink a 3 as he slips on sweat and falls down.
FACT: Others stymied Sacramento inside; Klay did get the ball in the corner, cut a couple steps to the basket to create space from Stauskas, then back to the corner for an IMPOSSIBLE, but upright, off-balance 3 that brought the house down and sent the Warrior bench—even injured Festus Ezeli—into convulsions. (32 points)
:50 remaining, 92-71 GS.
EXAGGERATION: Newly-entered Shaun Livingston, wanting to protect George Gervin's shared record for points in a quarter because they went to the same preschool, won't pass Klay the ball until Green intervenes. Klay runs a one-man weave from one corner to the other, lulling the Kings to sleep as he finally sinks a 3 from the top of the arc. Livingston breaks down in tears.
FACT: Klay got the pass directly from Livingston after breaking from the corner to the top of the arc. He eluded a jumpy McCallum and buried yet another 3 to shatter the old record. (35 points)
:13 remaining, 95-73 GS.
EXAGGERATION: As the third quarter ticks down, Thompson is fouled just as he releases a 40-footer. The blind-ass refs refuse to credit Klay with the continuation even though the shot was through the net when the foul was called!
FACT: The whistle blew well before Klay's free shot—if it had been counted, the ref gets a surplus of unwanted time off. Klay sank his free throws to close the greatest individual quarter in NBA history (37 points).
Don't let BE skew yet another sports achievement. If we don't stand up for the truth, future generations may never give Shaq proper credit for scoring 128 points in one game...