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Klay Thompson Is Having the Time of His Life in China

The NBA champion is missing dunks, losing at arm wrestling, and doesn’t seem to mind one bit

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Klay Thompson is the best Warrior.

I envy Klay. Not because of his two titles, not because he makes almost $20 million a year, not because he just signed a 10-year extension with his shoe company Anta for $80 million, and not because he makes shooting look as easy as breathing.

I envy him because while we’re out here tracking Woj bombs, sourced reports, free-agent meetings and so. many. rumors, Thompson is living his best life in China. Klay’s affable and lovable carelessness has never been displayed more perfectly than it has been during this summer vacation.

First, there was the video of him attempting a 360-dunk in front of a crowd that cheered him even after he spiked the ball off the front of the rim and then artfully fell on the blacktop.

What’s the best part about this? Klay’s cheeky smile and point to the guy next to him right before the dunk, as if to say, "Watch this"? The fact that he misses the dunk in the most embarrassing, yet hilarious way possible? Or that he pops right up like nothing ever happened? Any way you look at it, this is art.

Speaking of art, Klay was not reluctant to show off his dance moves during the trip. Look at how happy he looks while he bounces up and down with his hands up in the air at this Chinese nightclub. I don’t think I saw him this happy after the first or second Golden State title.

Look at how focused and intent he is on getting this basketball-holding swing dance down pat:

I am watching these videos like a proud and relieved parent who stumbles onto clips of their kid in college, and finds him or her not doing anything mischievous, but still having a grand old time. I’m glad that Klay, despite being 27, can seemingly enjoy life with the same fervor that he probably did as a toddler.

Somehow, Klay is relishing his stardom in China without coming off as self-involved or egotistical. It’s all impressively endearing.

During the playoffs, my colleague Chris Almeida wrote that Klay’s "mechanical repetition" is a formula for scoring a lot of points, but not one that helps an athlete become famous. It’s true. There’s nothing flashy about Klay, and there’s a reason he’s not as revered as Kevin Durant, loved as Steph Curry, or compelling as Draymond Green. The beauty of Klay’s appeal is in his constant representation of the anonymous persona he’s built for himself. He’s the same whether he’s scoring 37 points in a quarter, rescuing the Warriors from the depths of elimination in the playoffs, or joking with strangers in a foreign country about missing a dunk. It’s as admirable as it is magnetic.

China believes in Klaytheism. So should you.