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Klay Thompson is WSU’s most accomplished pro athlete. Who’s no. 2?

NBA: Finals-Golden State Warriors at Boston Celtics Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday night, Klay Thompson won his fourth NBA championship in six tries. That he did so after missing the entire 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 seasons due to knee and achilles injuries makes it even more impressive. Some athletes would never be the same. But for Thompson, all he did was average 20.4 points a game in 32 games. It culminated in another NBA title. And no matter what some might say, Thompson is definitely playing a big role in Golden State’s dynasty.

With four NBA titles, five all-star appearances and an Olympic gold medal, Thompson is by far WSU’s most accomplished professional athlete and it’s not even close.

But who’s no. 2? WSU’s had plenty of athletes perform well at the professional level, but none have come close to what Thompson has accomplished. But that still makes for a fun debate about who should be.....[Dr. Evil Voice]....number 2.

So after doing a brief amount of research (like, five minutes), here are some candidates for the no. 2 position. This is completely arbitrary.

Ron Cey

Cey gets a bump because of who he played for (the Los Angeles Dodgers) and who he played with: one of the best infields ever (Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes and Bill Russell). He won a World Series in 1981 and was the MVP of that series, and went to the all-star game six times.

Gene Conley

Conley’s name comes up whenever Thompson wins an NBA title because Conley was the first WSU alum to do it, and he did it three times, all with the Boston Celtics. But Conley also played Major League Baseball and was a World Series champion in 1957 with the Philadelphia Phillies Milwaukee Braves and a four-time all-star.

Aron Baynes

Baynes is also an NBA champion, winning a title with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014. He also has professional titles overseas and was a member of the Australian team that won a bronze medal at the 2020 Olympics.

John Olerud

Olerud won the World Series twice and was an all-star twice. He won three gold gloves and won the AL batting title in 1993. That’s all impressive enough, but what does it for me is Olerud played 17 seasons—plus eight games in an 18th season, his first—and was never sent to the minors. He played all 2,234 games in the majors.

Mel Hein

It’s real hard to judge athletes over different decades, but Hein was a beast in his time. He was a two-time NFL champion and has his number retired by the New York Giants, so that has to count for something.

Bernard Lagat

Lagat’s no. 2 in my book. While he never won a gold medal in the Olympics (he does have a silver and a bronze), he has eight gold medals in other championship races, including two World Championships and three World Indoor Championships. He also finished fourth in the 5,000 meter run at the 2012 Olympics....when he was 37 years old. Maybe I’m biased (I’m definitely biased), but track athletes are on another level in my book.

OK, who am I missing?

Links

Former Washington State great Klay Thompson is back on top after overcoming injuries: ‘He came back better than ever’ | The Spokesman-Review
Klay Thompson was one of the last Warriors players standing on the stage at TD Garden after the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy presentation celebration. The Warriors were champions, again. And Thompson didn’t want to take one second of it for granted.

Klay Thompson's 'holy cannoli' comment perfectly sums up Warriors' NBA title | RSN
Dub Nation might not have said "cannoli," but the sentiment was the same.