Gophers

Nostalgia With Former Gopher Star Mychal Thompson

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(credit: CBS) Mike Max
Mike Max returned to WCCO-TV as a sports reporter and anchor in Apr...
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By Mike Max, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In an era sprinkled with first round picks, one stood out — Mychal Thompson.

The sleek center from the Bahamas was the number one overall draft choice. His life still includes a lot of basketball with three sons and a job calling games for the team he helped win a world championship.

Thompson was part of the glory years — the 1970s Williams Arena. He became the NBAs number one overall pick.

“It was rocking, it was special. It was like the Madison Square Garden of college basketball. Old building, a lot of nostalgia, a lot of uniqueness to it because of the floor and the lighting was kind of dark and the court was lit up really well so it was like you were on stage,” said Thompson. “And that court was very soft and bouncy. It’s a sweet arena to play in, probably the nicest one in the country to play in because it’s not like the new, sterile arenas that look the same and luxury suites, it’s got that old school feel and they better not ever knock that building down.

He’s now a commentator of the Los Angeles Lakers, his former team.

“I feel like a roadie who works for the Rolling Stones, you know, Mick Jagger, Keith, Ronnie and Charlie Watts get all the attention, but I’m just in the background setting up the stage and seeing all the craziness that goes around the team,” said Thompson.

That means Kobe Bryant time who is an all-star player who enjoys Thompson for what he is.

“He’s great. He’s hilarious. He’s become a really good radio personality for us in Los Angeles and done a fantastic job … he’s got a great sense of humor too,” said Bryant.

Thompson is opinionated on everything, even why the Timberwolves can’t win.

“They don’t have a Kobe Bryant or Pau Gasol, it’s as simple as they. Now they have good players,” said Thompson. “It’s a big picture you have to look at, location, it’s Los Angeles. I love Minneapolis but if you had a choice between Minneapolis and L.A. and the money was equal, I mean you have to consider the weather and tradition and a chance for championships.”

And he’s a parent of three boys. One is a second round pick of the Chicago White Sox playing in the minor leagues.

Another is a senior basketball player at Pepperdine and a third is a possible lottery pick, if he declares for the NBA draft from Washington State.

“I married a very athletic woman. She’s a great athletic in her own right. Ran track in high school, played volleyball in college, did gymnastics growing up as a kid, so she’s a better all around athlete than I am … so it is part genes,” said Thompson. “But then the kids were around basketball and sports ever since they were in the crib.”

Thompson is an interesting man, growing up in the Bahamas and living, very much, the American dream.

“I’m from another country, I’m a citizen of the Bahamas but I feel like I’m as much an American as I am a Bahamian and this country has been so good to me. It’s not perfect, there’s no perfect place on earth,” said Thompson. “Everybody has little issues they’ve got to work out but in America you have the right to work them out, they give you the opportunity to work out your differences here, you can talk out your differences. So that’s why when I see citizens of this country put this country down and rip America, I say, that’s OK you can criticize our country but you have the realize this is the sweetest place in the world to live.”

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