Golden State Warriors star Klay Thompson said 2020 was "the worst year of my life" as he looks to return to the NBA next season following an Achilles injury.
Thompson suffered an Achilles injury ahead of the 2020-21 season, having torn his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the 2019 NBA Finals, which forced the five-time All-Star sit out the entire 2019-20 campaign.
Reflecting on a tumultuous period as he continues to recover, three-time NBA champion Thompson told reporters on Sunday: "It was probably the worst year of my life, guys.
"It feels good to be back here. I feel love when I'm back in the Warriors facility. My roots are here. [The pandemic] was not easy on anybody. Everyone had their own little trials and tribulations in 2020, but that was it for me -- was losing my grandma Mary, tearing my Achilles, I still think about Kobe every single day.
"There's not a day I don't think about him. And not being able to have that last convo with him ... it was a tough year, guys. Not only for me but I'm sure for all of you. I'm looking forward to the future, that's for sure."
“I think we have a great group. These guys come to work everyday, they’re eager to be great players. We still have so much basketball left to play.”— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) March 14, 2021
Klay addressed the media pregame pic.twitter.com/15TRheuwEX
Asked about being ready for the start of the 2021-22 season, Thompson replied: "Absolutely. It could be a few weeks after, maybe a month after, but it's definitely going to be geared toward the very beginning of the season."
On the mental challenges following two consecutive season-ending injuries, Thompson added: "It's way harder than any basketball game I've ever had to play. Way harder than any conditioning drill or practice.
"The mental toll is not very fun. You always guess if you're going to be the same player you once were, so you have those natural thoughts, but you can't let those overtake you and you got to realise that this is not unique just to me.
"So many athletes have been through this. Although I was used to playing 100 games a year for the first eight years of my career, this is just a new set of challenges, and with my style of play I feel like could be effective 'til my late 30s, so I'm not going to feel sorry for myself right now.
"I'm just going to keep buckling down and keep doing what I love to do."
Since being drafted by the Warriors with the 11th pick in 2011, the 31-year-old Thompson is averaging 19.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game in his career.