Klay Thompson: ‘I’m happy I don’t have to check Kyrie anymore’

Irving was among the players Thompson tabbed as toughest to guard in the NBA.

Kyrie Irving Klay Thompson
Kyrie Irving shoots over Klay Thompson in the final seconds at Quicken Loans Arena, December 25, 2016. –Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Warriors and Cavaliers are going head to head in the NBA Finals for the fourth straight year, but there’s a key figure missing from this year’s series.

After getting traded to the Boston Celtics in August, point guard Kyrie Irving is no longer a part of Golden State’s opposition — and Klay Thompson is pleased.

“I’m happy I don’t have to check Kyrie anymore, though, that’s for sure,” Thompson said Tuesday. “That guy, he is tough.”

Thompson included Irving — along with LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Damian Lillard — in his list of the toughest players to defend in the NBA. But he said there’s not one player who’s particularly more challenging to guard than the next.

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“They’re all unique in their own way,” Thompson said. “All of them aren’t really fun to guard, but as a competitor you love the challenge. I can’t tell you who’s the hardest to guard . . . We’re so blessed the league is full of so many great talents who all do things differently and at such a high level that you can’t relax on any given night.”

The respect is apparently mutual. Irving called it “bull****” Thompson hadn’t yet been named to an NBA All-Defensive team in January.

“I’d like to see him on a few more All-Defensive teams,” he said.