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Klay Thompson credits a neonatal doctor for his picture-perfect shooting form

Dr. Kaempf had a precise set of shooting instructions that young Klay repeated over and over again until it became second nature.
Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson

Klay Thompson

Between the two Golden State Warriors Splash Brothers, we can arguably say that Stephen Curry is the better shooter, but not by a mile. However, when talking about shooting form, Klay Thompson is the ultimate champion by a long shot. 

It’s not because Curry’s shot is ugly. But rather, Thompson’s shooting stroke is just so clean that nothing can compare to it. One would assume that Thompson was diligently taught by his father, Mychal, the proper mechanics. But lo and behold, a neonatal doctor is responsible for creating one of the prettiest strokes in the game.

Klay Creator

Crediting Mychal for Klay’s stroke makes a lot of sense as the elder Thompson spent 13 years in the NBA. However, upon deeper analysis, Mychal played center and was not considered a stretch big by any measure. The credit goes to a neonatal named Joseph Kaempf, as Klay himself said.

“I credit a lot of my shooting ability to Dr. Kaempf. He did a great job with me when I was young.” 

Dr. Kaempf is a neonatal doctor by trade who doubled as a head coach for kids’ sports teams in Portland, Oregon. Perhaps out of fate, Kaempf’s son Joey was teammates with Klay in a middle-school-age team. The shooting technique he taught Klay and Joey carried an eerie precision. An emphasis was placed on keeping the ball above the forehead. Upon release, the arms should be extended and the shooting hand spread. The index and middle finger should be making a “V.”

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I would say, ‘Shoot with good form close in and move out,’” Kaempf said. “Don’t shoot with bad form at 20 feet, shoot with good form at 3 feet.

The three-time NBA champion recalled repeating this set of shooting instructions every day in practice. Per Kaempf’s marching orders, Klay and the others started from close range and worked their way out.

Before every day in practice, we would shoot our jump shot over our head from just inside the key,” Thompson said. “And I swear that helped me develop my form. I kind of grew into my shot from that.

There’s an argument to be made that if Kaempf had not become a doctor, he would be a shooting coach in the NBA. After all, he applies the same keen eye to his patients to the nuances of a perfect stroke. He has studied the excellent techniques of Jerry West, Pete Maravich, Geoff Petrie, and Dell Curry.

Doesn’t want fame and fortune

It would be understandable if Kaempf started up a basketball camp and tagged himself as the “Klay Creator.” Tons of kids and prospects would sign up for his basketball program. That type of workshop would have high demand, especially in today’s era where every position is required to have a decent stroke.

But Kaempf is not the type of guy who likes to be credited and get paid. He believes that he wasn’t solely responsible for Thompson’s multi-million dollar form. Kaempf believes that Thompson worked his tail off. In other words, the doctor merely gave him the blueprint, and Klay ran away with it.

The local grocer could have coached him and he would’ve been great,” Kaempf said.

But the story speaks for itself. Kaempf’s patience with teaching kids and his diligence in studying the greats are good proofs that he deserves a ton of credit. Kaempf deserves all the praise because he is the actual Klay Creator. 

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