Klay Thompson’s inspiring message to Jamal Murray amid ACL recovery


Klay has message for Nuggets star Murray amid ACL recovery originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

If there’s one person who is all-too-familiar with the trials and tribulations that come with a lengthy recovery from a lower-leg injury, it’s Clay Thompson.

After a 31-month absence due to both ACL and Achilles injuries, Thompson returned to the court on Jan. 9, slowly shaking off the rust as his minutes ramped up throughout the second half of the season.

Denver Nuggets star Jamal Murray is going through a recovery process of his own, rehabbing from a torn ACL he sustained against the Warriors in April of last season.

In the weeks leading up to the NBA Playoffs, it was rumored that Murray was close to a return and could possibly make his season debut against the Warriors in the first-round playoff series. He ultimately has not and with Denver on the brink of elimination, it appears that his return will have to wait until next season.

Thompson spoke to Mike Singer of The Denver Post during Golden State’s playoff series against the Nuggets, where he discussed the difficulties of the rehab process and the advice he has for the Nuggets’ young star.

When Murray ultimately did not return to the court, he tweeted this response to the fans who were frustrated with the “will he/won’t he” speculation leading up to the playoffs.

“It’s just unfair to him, man,” Thompson told The Denver Post. “What is it, less than a year? And you’re thrown into a playoff series? You can’t simulate that. It was hard enough to simulate a regular-season game. I couldn’t even imagine not playing basketball for a year and then thrown into a situation where you’re down (in the playoffs).

“It’s just, I feel for him, man,” he continued. “Fans are kind of unrealistic. They don’t realize how much it takes to build back your muscle to be able to compete at this level. This is the best basketball in the world. You don’t want to put your whole future at risk just because of win right now. He’s only, what, 25? What are we doing here?”

As frustrating as it probably is for Murray, patience is key when it comes to rehabbing from such a serious injury. As much as he might want to help his team in the present, it’s important not to jeopardize the future.

And that’s exactly the advice Thompson has for the 25-year-old.

“That’s such an unfortunate feeling,” Thompson said. “I would just tell Jamal to keep in mind the big picture. He’s got a decade of greatness ahead of him. No need to compromise that now.”

“I feel for the guy, I know what it’s like seeing all that stuff online. It can be just mentally draining.”

Just like Thompson, Murray is an integral part of Denver’s offense. When healthy, the Nuggets rely on him as much as reigning MVP Nikola Jokic. The Nuggets can’t afford to rush Murray back and Thompson understands that better than anyone.

“He’s not in a position where he can just coast,” Thompson added. “He has the ball in his hands all the time. He runs the offense. He comes off screens, he’s flying around. That takes months. That takes a long time, and especially for playoff basketball. That’s just a big task for somebody. To look at him differently because he’s not back yet is just unfair.

“The NBA is hard, man. To come back in a playoff game, play 35 minutes and you haven’t played a year? It took me three, four months to get here, to get into this condition. I don’t care how much pick-up he plays. You can’t simulate the crowd, you can’t simulate the stressors that come with being on television and that performance aspect where you’re expected to be this great already.”

This wouldn’t be the first time that Thompson has advised Murray during his recovery process. On the night he tore his ACL against the Warriors last season, Thompson spoke to Murray after the game, offering advice to the young star who was about to embark on the same journey Thompson just finished before tearing his Achilles before the 2020-21 season.

RELATED: Draymond finds ‘peace’ with Warriors back in the playoffs

The NBA is a better product when both Thompson and stars like Murray are on the court, there’s no question about that. As entertaining as the Warriors-Nuggets series could have been with both on the court, Murray’s long-term health takes precedent.

With the Nuggets’ season likely coming to an end soon, a healthy Denver squad featuring both Murray and Jokic next season will certainly give the Warriors headaches.

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