Sunday marks the one-year anniversary of one the greatest, most significant playoff performances of all time.
A year ago, with his Golden State Warriors facing elimination in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals, Klay Thompson scored a playoff career-high 41 points, with an NBA playoff-record 11 3-pointers, to lead a come-from-behind victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder and send the series back to Oakland.
The implications of that game proved massive for both the Warriors and Thunder, and for the league as a whole. The Warriors went on to win Game 7 to advance to the Finals, setting in motion a chain of events that culminated in Kevin Durant leaving the Thunder to sign with them as a free agent last summer.
With Durant in tow, the Warriors are now back in the Finals, looking for revenge in a rubber match against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Thompson has been mired in a bit of a slump the past couple weeks, so he's been turning back to that Game 6 performance to remind himself how good he can be.
"I watch the highlights sometimes when I'm in a shooting slump or something," he told Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News. "I'll watch the highlights to see what I'm capable of. ... Say these past couple of weeks, I've had a few bad shooting nights, I'll watch those highlights. Not just that one, but any good shooting night I had against a team coming up.
"But obviously I see those highlights a lot because I was in a zone that I try to tap into. It's hard to get to that zone, even when it's not 11 threes - even if it's just four or five - but the way I was moving, I was shooting it with no hesitation. I just try to look at what I did right in that game and I learn from it still from this day."
Durant was on the other end of that game, watching helplessly as Thompson made ridiculous three after ridiculous three to sink the Thunder's hopes. The memory of that game is still so raw that Thompson said he and Durant, teammates now for nearly 11 months, still haven't talked about it.
"That year ended pretty bitterly for all parties involved, so I don't think we touched it much," Thompson said. "Hopefully we win it this year, then we'll revisit it."
As many times as he's returned to that performance, Thompson said he hasn't really thought about the league-altering implications of the result, and everything that followed. When he does stop to let it all sink in, though, it kind of blows his mind.
"I don't really think about all the things that fell in line afterward, which is crazy to think about," he said. "Because now when I do watch it, there's even more weight on all these shots I'm putting up.
"It's unbelievable how it all aligned afterward. I do believe it was meant to be. Feels like destiny. So it worked out great for us."