NEW YORK -– Klay Thompson sits calmly in the eye of storm, an elevated table surrounded by dozens of cameras and microphones being held by men and women lunging and shouting questions from the innocuous to the inane.
It's Media Day at All-Star Weekend, and Thompson is making his first appearance in the game. He's in great demand because he's an All-Star, he's Stephen Curry's teammate and he's on a Warriors team generating an abundance of buzz.
"It's a great honor for me," Thompson says evenly of being an All-Star. "My parents are really proud of me. I'm just happy to be here, really. It's a great feeling."
Thompson cruises through the session, his emotional temperature never rising or falling more than a fraction one way or the other. He's polite, meets his obligations. He's unflappable but not aloof, placid without being taciturn.
It's Klay being Klay.
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Thompson, 24, is an NBA star months away from a contract worth nearly $70 million. He has no interest in creating a public alter ego. He's bristling with confidence while being four time zones from arrogance. He accepts his rising status, but exhibits no interest in bathing in it.
Others around the league are weighing in, extolling Thompson's virtues. Lakers legend Magic Johnson three weeks ago tweeted that LeBron James and Thompson "are the two best all-around players we have in the NBA today." Charles Barkley two weeks ago on national TV made it clear he believes Thompson was a more deserving than perennial All-Star Chris Paul.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr, the league's all-time leader in 3-point shooting percentage, rhapsodizes about Klay's practically perfect shooting form.
"I don't think I'm close to what I can become yet," Thompson says. "This is a great honor for me being here and I think it's a great stepping stone to big things."
They can praise Thompson from coast to coast, but another Lakers legend, Jerry West, now an executive board member for the Warriors, has been driving the Thompson bandwagon for years.
"He's just really good," West says, "And because he's relentless about getting better, he will get better."
Thompson hears the praise and it warms him. It does not define him or alter his view of himself, as shaped by his parents, Mychal and Julie. Mychal, the former NBA star, is simultaneously Klay's biggest critic and booster.
To spend a minute around Mychal discussing Klay is to understand why the son is so, well, grounded and driven. Klay is as unassuming as they come, letting nothing come between himself and his mellow.
Warriors teammate Andrew Bogut says getting a fist pump out of Thompson after he sinks a game-winning shot is "the equivalent of doing cartwheels down the court" for most people.
Curry this week "starred" in a Vine where he does an impression of how he imagines Thompson's nonchalant reaction to being named a starter in the All-Star Game.
"Huh, really? That's cool," Curry says, as if awakened from a nap.
"Wait, what did y'all say again?"
Thompson is asked several times about his 37-point quarter against the Kings on Jan. 23. He says he shocked himself.
"Just to get 37 in a game is a great feat, let alone in a quarter," Thompson says. "Hopefully that record stands for a long time. I still watch the tapes sometimes. Man, it was a crazy night – an unbelievable night."
He says this with conviction but no discernable enthusiasm. Which is not to suggest he's lacking passion. Oh, it's there, but mostly obscured by his austere countenance.
Asked to name his favorite NBA nickname of all time, Thompson mentions three: Iceman (George Gervin), Dr. J (Julius Erving) and Magic (Earvin Johnson).
And, of course, the coolest guy earned first mention.