After a two year layoff, Klay Thompson’s return to the NBA is imminent. The three-time champion and five-time All Star has been out of commission for almost two and a half years after a series of injuries, but by all accounts the missing half of the Golden State Warriors’ Splash Brothers is going to be hitting the court again soon. When that time comes, the Western Conference is going to be on notice.
In the meantime though, Klay remains passionate about boating, his Instagram-famous dog Rocco, and food. He recently partnered with Uber Eats and Shake Shack to get in on the trend of celebrity endorsed fast-food orders: The “Klay Trey” comes with a chicken sandwich, fries, and a chocolate shake. Ahead of his upcoming return to the court, Thompson spoke with GQ about how injury rehab and the pandemic affected his diet, cold-water therapy, and why you shouldn’t eat burgers before a boat day.
GQ: You’re coming out of a two-year injury layoff with a pandemic right in the middle of it. Between that and the rehab process, how has the way you approach your diet changed since we last saw you on the court?
Klay Thompson: During the pandemic you couldn’t eat out. So the best I could do was meal prep for me, at least. Going through rehab I didn’t want to have a fatty diet with lots of sugar, bread, carbohydrates—all the good stuff. You don’t want to do that on a daily basis. So for me, it was just about being smart with my meal preps and working with the chef to get in every nutritional food group and give me the energy I needed to power through daily workouts. But my diet has been pretty good for years. You just figure out what works for you and try to limit those cheat days.
What does breakfast look like for you these days?
I usually get scrambled eggs and maybe a smoothie. I don’t like to eat a huge breakfast before I run up and down the court, but these last two years been difficult because I’ve been through so many stages of rehab. I’ve been immobilized many times and you’ve got to scale back because you’re not burning nearly the amount of carbs or calories. So for me, it was just being proportional and having reasonable amounts of food at the table. As I work out more, the portions get a little bigger, but it took a lot of discipline to scale back the last two years.
Between PT and workouts, what does your fitness regimen look like after you’re finished with breakfast?
Right after breakfast, I take a 20 minute grace period just to relax and let my food digest. After that I will go right into physical therapy. After 30 minutes of being on a table and doing that type of body work I will go to practice right from there.
What do you do to recover after practice, both in terms of food and physical care?
I’m really a big believer in cold water therapy. Swimming in the cold or doing an ice bath, anything like that shocks your system and fills your internal organs up with blood and gets the blood flowing. That’s been my biggest remedy for like those dog days during the season, that and sleep. If you want to play 40 minutes a night, you gotta. I just discovered that in the last few years. I love the water— the ocean has been such a huge source for recovery for me. But I truly believe everyone should do [cold water therapy] just like, five or ten minutes every day.