Warriors' Klay Thompson adds meditation to his mental preparation
OAKLAND — Klay Thompson craved a little calm.
The Golden State guard needed something more to balance out his basketball routine, so he added meditation to help him get centered 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."
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.
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.
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's 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 hand up near his face and uttered "I missed you" when he finally got on a roll again at Portland on Dec. 29.
He credits meditation in part for how far he has come in handling everything as he wraps up his eighth NBA season.
Thompson added meditation and visualization 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 3-pointers, hitting his first seven shots.
"The mind's 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 meditation. "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."
Teammate Shaun Livingston can picture Thompson in a moment of complete serenity and peace — "100 percent, nothing would surprise me."