Lacob happily made that declaration in the wake of Friday night’s 118-113, series-clinching Game 6 victory over the Houston Rockets after watching the pair combine for 60 points and lead the Warriors to their fifth straight Western Conference finals appearance.
“Obviously, my intention is to keep them as part of our organization forever,” Lacob told ESPN. “That’s our goal. We’ll see what happens.”
Lacob’s words are notable, given the amount of speculation regarding Thompson’s future with the team heading into this summer. While much of the focus has surrounded Kevin Durant and whether he will stay with the Warriors, Thompson will also be a free agent at season’s end and is expected to earn a maximum contract. The Warriors are the only team that has the ability to offer Thompson a five-year deal worth $188 million or a supermax deal worth $221 million if Thompson makes an All-NBA team.
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NBA protocol does not allow Lacob to publicly state he will give Thompson a full max extension, but his words were the clearest sign yet that Thompson’s professional marriage with the Warriors will continue for years to come.
Thompson had said repeatedly throughout the season that he wanted to spend his entire career with the Warriors, a feeling shared throughout the organization and echoed recently by Warriors coach Steve Kerr.
Lacob and Thompson shared a joyous moment together late in Friday’s game, after Thompson iced it with a 3-pointer with 36.1 seconds left that gave the Warriors a six-point lead. Thompson turned around after hitting the shot and pointed at Lacob, who was sitting courtside and pointed back at Thompson.
Many inside the Toyota Center and on social media believed that Thompson was sending his boss a clear message of “pay me my money,” but Thompson brushed that idea aside after the game.
“Nah,” Thompson told ESPN. “It was just living in the moment. That’s all it was.”
Lacob said he loved having that connection with Thompson, whom he has grown fond of since buying the team in 2010.
“We’ve had a few of those,” Lacob said. “I have a special bond with him. I always have. He’s the first player, since I bought the team, that we drafted. The very first one. And I just have always felt an incredible attachment. People make fun of me a little bit — I always say I love Klay. I love Klay. I just do. He’s so real. He’s so real. There’s no B.S. And there’s something about him, I have a very special relationship with him.
“That was so great when he came over. I almost did what I did in Oklahoma City, but that’d be too much. They’d kill me in Houston.”
Lacob was referring to Game 6 of 2016 Western Conference finals, when Thompson drained a playoff-record 11 3-pointers to lift the Warriors past the Oklahoma City Thunder. Afterward, an overjoyed Lacob dropped to his knees and bowed before Thompson.
On Friday night, Thompson made sure that Lacob and the rest of the Warriors headed back to Oakland beaming as the ensuing victory set off a raucous celebration inside the visitors locker room. Thompson said he was appreciative Lacob has always been in his corner.
“I can feel his passion,” Thompson said. “We’ve been here before. And s—, he’s more into it than most fans. You got to respect someone’s passion like that, man. Especially ownership. You hear a lot of stories [around the league] about people not caring, but Joe’s cared since day one, so it felt good to just have that moment with him because I know how much he cares for us to win and how much he wants to be successful.”
Thompson’s ability to raise his level of play in the biggest of games doesn’t surprise his teammates such as Curry, who says he always believes Thompson will play at a high level when they need him most.
“It’s like he’s in the park,” Curry said of Thompson. “Just putting up shots in a little chain-link net or something. Just enjoying playing basketball, and his personality and his perspective on life really makes him different in these moments, because I don’t know if he really even feels pressure. He’s just out there hooping. The shots he was taking in the first half, understanding the situation, confidence to knock them down, was huge for us. Yeah, we don’t win this game tonight without everybody on the court, but especially Klay that first half, to give us life and give us a reason to be in it in the second half.”
For Lacob, the ability to watch Curry and Thompson take over one more time on the playoff stage left him beaming as he headed out of the arena.
“So much fun,” Lacob said. “You kind of expect it. That’s who they are. They’ve done it now so many times. Mark Jackson, of all people … he called them the greatest backcourt of all time, or greatest shooting backcourt of all time, and they’ve lived up to that. And they’re clutch. They’re amazing individuals. They’re both great guys. They’re just terrific people.”