A mere three hours after learning that his son Klay was cited for marijuana possession late Thursday night, former NBA player Mychal Thompson spoke at length on the radio in Los Angeles about his disappointment.
Mychal, an analyst on 710 ESPN's Lakers broadcasts and a regular contributor to the station, was previously scheduled to serve as a fill-in host from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday. Instead of backing out when he heard the news about his son's arrest, Mychal used the platform to talk candidly about the situation, perhaps since it was cathartic and perhaps in hopes that it would be educational for listeners.
Klay, an NBA prospect and Washington State's leading scorer, was cited for marijuana possession after an officer pulled him over as a result of a broken headlight hours after Thursday night's victory over USC. The junior guard has been suspended for at least Saturday's regular season finale against UCLA and could miss the Pac-10 tournament next week as well.
Thompson devoted the first two hours of Friday's show to Klay's arrest, responding to questions from co-host Mark Willard and taking calls from listeners about the subject as well. Here's a few of the most candid and compelling snippets from what was a terrific couple hours of radio:
On Klay's phone call Friday morning informing Mychal he'd been arrested:
The first thing I thought about even before I pushed the answer button was, 'I hope nobody is hurt' because he doesn't call me at 7 a.m. I answered the phone, 'Klay, what's wrong?'" That's all I said, 'What's wrong?' 'Well, dad, I kind of messed up.' I said, 'Oh great, what happened?' 'Well, I was pulling into my driveway and a cop pulled me over and he found some marijuana in my car.' I said, 'Was it yours?' He said, 'Well, it was in the car and I had some friends in the car who were smoking it.' I said, 'well, did they arrest you, did they cite you, did they ticket you?' He said, 'Oh yeah.'
On whether Klay has smoked marijuana previously:
I asked him, 'Have you done this before?' He said, 'A couple of times, yeah.' I felt like I got hit in the stomach by Manny Pacquiao when he said that. I thought he was better than that. And I know we aren't angels -- kids make mistakes, I made mistakes, driving impaired when I was 20-something -- but I can honestly say I've never tried illegal drugs before in my life. And I've been around it. Guys doing lines right in front of me.
On how much this could hurt Klay's NBA stock:
Definitely some teams will look at Klay going, 'Hmmm if this guy's going to be this irresponsible, I don't know if I'd want this type of guy on my team and want to invest all this kind of money him.' I told him, 'Klay, do you think NBA teams who are thinking of you as this guy with high character and good morals, don't you think this is going to hurt your reputation?' He said, 'Yeah, i know.'
On the lesson Mychal hopes Klay will learn:
I was laying it out there telling him what was at risk here with his reputation. He wants to prove he can play at the next level and be a professional young man that teams are willing to take a chance on. I said, 'This how you prove yourself? Doing this? I said you just can't do this son. We all have choices to make in life and I warned you and your brothers about these dangers, these temptations that you're going to face.' I've warned them since they were in fifth or sixth grade about this stuff. And to see that he's succumbed to this disappoints me highly.
On whether Mychal blames himself a little bit:
You think, 'Where did we fail? Where did i fail? How did my message not get across to this kid?' I thought I hammered into their heads enough. Like I said, we talk about this all the time. Every time I see him, I talk about the temptations and what a privilege it is to play professional sports in this country. It's a fantasy life. It's hard work, but it really is a fantasy life. I said, 'You have an opportunity to do this Klay. Do not mess it up. Otherwise you'll be 35 or 40 years old thinking, 'oh how did I mess this up.' You don't want to have those regrets in your life.'
On Mychal's conversation with his wife breaking the news to her:
I saw the number from home pop up, and I was like, 'oh jeez, here we go.' I just wanted to talk to the coach first, so we could figure out what we're going to do. The first thing she says is, 'Did you see what your son did?' I said, 'My son? What about your son? He's your son too.' Anyway, she was livid, of course. And disappointed. Very disappointed. She said something shocking to me, which was that she wasn't surprised. See, I was surprised. I thought I warned him enough about the dangers and the influence of friends. But she said the friends that he hangs out with, it doesn't surprise her. I understood that and the friends that he hung out with, we knew that they did it, but my friends did it too and I didn't do it. I chose not to.