This profile on Pepperdine University basketball player Mychel Thompson is one in a series on individuals in the community who are involved with the world of sports.
On Nov. 16, 2010 senior Pepperdine University forward Mychel Thompson exploded for a career-high 34 points against Nevada.
Not to be outshined, exactly one week later, Thompson’s brother, Washington State junior guard Klay Thompson, scored a season-high 35 points against Portland.
Brothers Mychel and Klay have been one-upping each other ever since they were competing in their backyard in Portland, Ore.
“We definitely have a rivalry,” Mychel said about his younger brother. “I’m proud of him, but I always try to one-up him. It is tough because he is good.”
Growing up, Mychel and Klay would play every sport together, from football to basketball to baseball to golf. Mychel would use his size to push his brother around.
“Often games would end because there was so much bickering and fighting,” Klay said, laughing.
When they were not competing against each other, they teamed up to play against a much tougher opponent-their 6-foot, 10-inch father, Mychal Thompson, who was the first-overall selection in the 1978 NBA draft, won two NBA Championships with the Los Angeles Lakers and is now the Lakers radio color commentator.
Since their father was experienced and used to playing against NBA players, Mychel and Klay would make him compete with youngest son Trayce in two-on-two contests to balance the teams. The Chicago White Sox drafted Trayce in 2009 as a second-round draft pick to play baseball.
“By the time they got to age 14, I could not beat them anymore,” Mychal admitted. “Up until then, I dominated the driveway.”
Not many players have been able to stop Klay or Mychel.
Klay leads the Pac-10 Conference with a scoring average of 23.1 points per game.
Mychel is averaging a career-high 12.8 points per game, which is second on the team, and a Waves-leading 5.6 rebounds per game. In his four years at Pepperdine, he has left a lasting mark on the program. He is on pace to break the school’s record for most career games played. He is fourth on Pepperdine’s all-time list for three-pointers made, and eighth in the school’s record book for career steals.
“Mychel means everything to this team,” junior guard Keion Bell said. “He rebounds, defends and blocks shots. He does a lot more than just score. Even if his jumper is off, and he is not scoring, he is doing everything else.”
Mychel and Klay still talk frequently, and compete in one-on-one when they have time.
“It is a lot of fun playing one-on-one now because [Mychel] cannot push me around like he used to,” Klay said.
Pepperdine coach Tom Asbury knows well that he can use the sibling rivalry to motivate Mychel.
“I always get on Mychel about how good his younger brother Klay is,” Asbury said.
Last Saturday, against Saint Mary’s, Mychal was able to announce his son Mychel’s game on television.
“I am really proud of him,” Mychal said. “His coaches say that he is working really hard, and everyone says that he is conducting himself well as a young man.”
Even though the Thompson family is spread out, with Mychel in Malibu, Klay in Pullman, Wash. and Trayce playing baseball last season in North Carolina, the family is able to remain close-knit by talking about basketball and keeping track of each others’ games.
“Basketball is a game that is in our family, that we all love,” Mychel said.