Even with the Raiders and Chargers doing battle on Sunday Night Football, Klay Thompson’s highly-anticipated return drew strong ratings on NBA TV, representing the network’s most-watched regular season game in six years.
Returning to the court for the first time since tearing his ACL in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals, the younger of Golden State’s two “Splash Brothers” received a hero’s welcome from fans at Chase Center, who erupted when Thompson was introduced before Sunday’s game in San Francisco.
Along with drawing a colossal 12.7 household rating locally on NBC Sports Bay Area, Thompson’s return from a 31-month injury hiatus also blew up social media, garnering an unprecedented 110 million views across all platforms.
A certain Hall-of-Famer and one of the greatest shooters to ever step on an NBA hardwood, Thompson’s absence has been felt more than most would probably realize. Media critic Richard Dietsch of The Athletic attributes the league’s ratings downturn to the Warriors’ struggles in recent years, failing to reach the playoffs (unless you count their “play-in” game against the Lakers last spring) in either of their two seasons without Thompson.
One could argue Kevin Durant is equally responsible for leaving as a free agent in 2019, though all is forgiven now with Klay healthy again and the Warriors—tied with Phoenix for the league’s best record at 30-9—back firing on all cylinders. Thompson made the most of his limited reps Sunday night, contributing 17 points in 20 minutes of court time as Golden State cruised to a 96-82 win over Cleveland in a rematch of the 2015, ‘16, ‘17 and ’18 NBA Finals.