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On Thursday night, Klay Thompson did something he hadn’t done for 12 years. Rather than starting the game for the Golden State Warriors, he came off the bench, for the first time since his rookie season in 2012.

“You can do two things — you can pout, or you can go out there and respond. I thought I did the latter very well tonight.” — Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson on not starting against the Jazz

Wednesday, Thompson was benched in the final minutes of the Warriors game against the Los Angeles Clippers, and he admitted to not reacting appropriately to that situation.

“I didn’t respond to not playing at the end of the game well last night,” Thompson said. “Kind of took it out on the assistant coaches. I apologized to those guys.”

But Thompson had a completely different response to coming off the bench on Thursday. He responded with grace, humility and with the kind of reflection that every NBA player should use as a blueprint when thinking about their place in the hierarchy of a roster.

“You can do two things — you can pout, or you can go out there and respond,” Thompson said. “I thought I did the latter very well tonight.”

Thompson and Stephen Curry have long been known as the Splash Brothers — snipers from 3-point range who can crush opposing teams with a barrage of efficient shooting. A part of the Warriors championship dynasty, Thompson holds the NBA record for the most points scored in a single quarter (37).

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But Thompson, 34, has struggled lately, shooting just 29.7% from 3 over the 11 games that preceded Thursday’s game in Utah, and Golden State is faced with making decisions as their dynastic core ages. So, head coach Steve Kerr decided it might be time for Thompson to move to the bench.

It led to Thompson’s best game of the year — a season-best 35 points to go with six assists.

“You’ve just got to let the ego go when you think of coming off the bench,” Thompson said. “I thought about Manu Ginobili. That guy has four rings and a gold medal. Came off the bench his whole career, and I don’t think anyone looks down on his Hall of Fame candidacy.

“He’s one of the greats. I embraced it before tip, and I deserved it, really. ... I realize how lucky I am to still be playing this game at 34 years old,” he continued. “I can’t get hung up on a few bad performances here and there rather than to just be grateful to be out here and do what I love. That’s really a blessing.”

This is exactly how every player, whose role changes as their career progresses, should look at things. It’s about playing for the name on the front of the jersey, not for the name on the back. It’s about doing what is best for the team, even if that means humbling yourself and taking a step back.

Thompson is already destined for the Hall of Fame after his storied career with the Warriors. But going through this change, and doing so with grace and understanding, makes his candidacy even stronger, in my opinion.

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Quote of the week

“Kris Dunn is unbelievable, what did he have like a plus-24? Guys like that, they’re not necessarily scoring 40 or whatever, but they just, just play to win. I mean, it’s so much fun to play with a guy like that.” — Utah Jazz center Walker Kessler

From the archives

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Extra points

  • Jazz could look to use Kris Dunn in new ways (Deseret News)
  • Taylor Hendricks’ life on the court is about to change in a big way (Deseret News)
  • The development of this trio is the Jazz’s top priority the rest of the season (Deseret News)
  • Simone Fontecchio’s parting gift to Jazz fans: His favorite Italian restaurant (KSL.com)

Around the league

Up next

  • Feb. 22 | 7 p.m. | Utah Jazz vs. Charlotte Hornets | KJZZ
  • Feb. 25 | 6 p.m. | Utah Jazz vs. San Antonio Spurs | KJZZ

All times MST.

Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) shoots a 3-point basket against Utah Jazz forward Taylor Hendricks (0) during game Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024, in Salt Lake City. | Rick Bowmer, Associated Press