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Klay Thompson raises his game, and raises money for a cause

Warriors guard donates $69,000 toward Northern California wildfire relief

OAKLAND, California — Klay Thompson has been scoring points for two teams over the past three games — the Golden State Warriors and Northern California wildfire victims.

Thompson scored a team-high 29 points in the Warriors’ 115-107 loss to the Detroit Pistons on Sunday night. The three-time NBA All-Star also pledged $1,000 for every point he scored in a three-game homestand from Oct. 25-29 with games against the Toronto Raptors (22 points), Washington Wizards (18) and the Pistons to benefit victims and communities affected by the recent Northern California wildfires. Thompson’s three-game total of 69 points raised $69,000 for the Redwood Credit Union North Bay Fire Relief Fund.

“It feels great, not just for myself but for all the people who joined in and pledged,” Thompson said. “I saw some huge donations. Every big one counts so much, because I visited Santa Rosa and it’s very sad to see what happened. I hope these funds really help out these families that are in desperate need.”

Containment of the Northern California wildfires, which are some of the worst in California history, is expected this week. According to Cal Fire, 42 people have died, nearly 9,000 homes have been destroyed and about 100,000 people were forced to evacuate in Northern California since firestorms began on Oct. 8. The dead were between ages 14 and 100, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. California Gov. Jerry Brown declared Oct. 28 a Day of Remembrance of the Northern California Fires and called for flags to be flown at half-staff over the State Capitol.

Thompson said he was stunned when he recently visited Santa Rosa, where nearly 3,000 homes were torched by the Tubbs Fire.

“I have never seen anything like it,” Thompson said. “Vegetation was dead everywhere, and houses were burned all the way to the foundation. It’s nothing like I’ve ever have seen before. It’s going to take years to recover.”

Detroit Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy, a Bay Area native, said he paid close attention to the fires from afar and fortunately didn’t have any friends affected by it.

“Everyone was paying attention to that. That was some scary stuff,” Van Gundy said.

Thompson, a Los Angeles-area native in his seventh season with the Warriors, believed it was important to do something to help the NorCal fire victims. Days before the Northern California firestorms began, residents in his Oakland Hills neighborhood were asked to evacuate because of a fire that was controlled. Although Thompson was not there, his brother, Mychel, evacuated.

“We had a fire near our house and we had to evacuate,” Mychel Thompson said. “It didn’t burn any homes, but me and my dog evacuated. We only evacuated for six, seven hours. We just saw how much power a fire has.”

To say Klay Thompson comes from an extraordinary athletic family is an understatement.

Thompson’s father, Mychal, was the No. 1 pick in the 1978 NBA draft by the Portland Trail Blazers and won two NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers. Klay Thompson, 27, has won two NBA championships with the Warriors and a gold medal with USA Basketball’s 2016 Olympic team. Mychel Thompson, 29, played for the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2012-13 season and also played professionally in the D-League and in Italy before retiring this year. Trayce Thompson, 26, is an outfielder for the National League champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

Mychel Thompson said he and his friend Seth Tarver, a former Oregon State star, are building the Thompson Family Foundation, which the entire family is involved with to be more active in charitable causes. Mychel Thompson added that he and Tarver recently went to Santa Rosa Cardinal Newman High to talk to students after the fire on Oct. 24. He added that through the family foundation they also plan to do a lot of charity work soon in Oakland.

“We are just trying to figure out ways to give back to the community,” Mychel Thompson said. “This [fire aid] is the first thing we got to help with.”

Said Klay Thompson: “I want to get more involved, absolutely.”

Klay Thompson said his agent, Greg Lawrence, gave him the idea of making a donation to aid Northern California fire victims. Thompson took it to the next level. He chose to partner with Redwood Credit North Bay Fire Relief Fund through a performance-based donation.

The Redwood Credit Union Bay Fire Relief Fund is accepting 100 percent tax-deductible financial donations to assist North Bay Area fire victims and aid relief efforts through the website www.pledgeit.org/klay. Aid will go to those affected in four Bay Area counties: Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino and Lake.

“My agent came up with the idea, but I came up with making it performance-based with the point thing,” Klay Thompson said. “But he initially told me it would be a great thing to do, especially when I’m trying to become more involved with the community, the Bay Area and the surrounding areas as well.”

Said Mychel Thompson: “The fire didn’t discriminate. It infected the wealthy, the middle class and the poor. It really looked like a war. I’ve heard from so many people that propane gas tanks were exploding at every house and sounding like a bomb.”

Total pledges through Klay Thompson’s Points with Purpose reached nearly $305,000 from nearly 100 donors late Sunday night. The goal is to raise $350,000 for the Redwood Credit Union North Bay Fire Relief Fund. There are five remaining days to make a pledge.

“I love that he is doing that on his own,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said. “It shows how much he cares. It shows how much he has matured over the years. This was something that he came up with. He’s going for it. He’s already contributed $40,000 and a lot more tonight. Let’s hope he goes for about 60. That would be great.”

Said Van Gundy: “Anytime a player takes it upon themselves to give back, it’s two things. Obviously, the money helps. That is a big part of it. But the publicity they get out of that and motivating other people also is just as, if not more, important.”

Thompson is the 2017 NBA 3-point contest champion, one of the league’s most intimidating shooters and one of the top on-ball defenders. Much of the spotlight on the Warriors often goes to Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green, however, instead of the laid-back Thompson.

Kerr, however, called Thompson the Warriors’ “most consistent player” through the first six games this season. Thompson has averaged 20.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists with a 43.1 3-point shooting percentage. The 6-foot-7, 215-pounder has made a 3-pointer in 61 consecutive games, which is the NBA’s longest streak, and has already guarded NBA All-Stars such as James Harden and John Wall.

“He’s been our most consistent performer night in and night out,” Kerr said. “There is no way I would have said that three years ago. He had a lot of holes in his game. They were all, obviously, fixable because of his talent, his size and his strength. Most of it was mental. He’s got that mental toughness now and focus to go along with his talent.”

And Thompson also has the heart to help the fire victims in the Bay Area too.

Marc J. Spears is the senior NBA writer for Andscape. He used to be able to dunk on you, but he hasn’t been able to in years and his knees still hurt.