Underestimate the West Coast, bet against us—and you will lose…big-ly.

By Andrew J. Pridgen

Klay Thompson should have played hoops for a major program in college. The three-sport star out of Los Angeles had the pedigree: Thompson is the son of a college volleyball player, Julie, and the NBA’s first overall pick in 1978, Showtime Lakers power forward Mychal. He had the skills: Thompson averaged 21 points per game as a senior and led his Santa Margarita Ranch Catholic High School to a Division III State Championship appearance where he destroyed the state finals record with with seven three-pointers in the game. He was named Division III State player of the year, League MVP, first-team Best in the West and an EA Sports Second Team All American.

Yet he ended up not heavily recruited and mostly sequestered from the national spotlight playing three seasons of college ball at Washington State.

While in Pullman, Thompson was first team all-conference twice and eventually ended up as Golden State’s no. 11 overall pick in 2014, selected behind such NBA luminaries as Derrick Williams, Enes Kanter, Jonas Valančiūnas, Bismack Biyombo, Brandon Knight, Kemba Walker and Jimmer Fredette—who? Exactly.

NBA scouting reports on Thompson said while the 6’7” shooting guard could move without the ball and had a nice stroke, there was something a little bit off about the laconic kid. He didn’t have that necessary flash or pop you look for in a lottery pick. Front offices openly questioned his strength, his dedication and put a label on him that he disappeared down the stretch of important conference games.

Basically, they thought he was lazy.

And you can see why. Thompson moves slow. If he does talk, the words drip out like the last drops of Gatorade from an Igloo cooler. When he laughs, it kind of simmers to a slow boil and by the time it’s actually out there everyone else has moved on to the next thing. He is, in a sense, the personification of the West Coast. Because after all this time of overlooking him or taking him for granted, you realize he’s deadly serious and deadly effective once his game face is on.

Didn’t see it coming? Nobody did.

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I’ve thought a lot about the sensibilities of Klay Thompson this week in the fallout from the worst campaign season of my lifetime which resulted in electing arguably one of the more decrepit, dyspeptic and downright evil people who has ever walked the planet to a position that requires patience, virtue, intelligence and empathy—traits which in his seven-plus decades scorching this beautiful earth for personal pleasure and gain, he has yet to show in any public manner. I’ve thought about Thompson because, well, he gives me hope that the West Coast, while constantly underestimated, is always out there crushing.

So I took a minute on Thursday to try to hit reset and see what, exactly, we out here in the West did do down ballot, because I already know that we—by a margin of millions—outright rejected the hateful rhetoric, the celebration of ignorance and intolerance and the fear-mongering that put the president elect in power.

And what I saw was similar to what I saw Thompson do against the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night. He started out the game hitting all of his his first seven shots and scored 18 of his 20 points in the first quarter, giving the Warriors breathing room to go to work and eventually dismantled their opponent 116-95.

In California, we similarly came out firing Tuesday. Nine billion dollars in bonds for schools was passed. Recreational marijuana became legal and the new law even allows adults 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of and grow up to six pot plants at home. A $2 tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products won big and will direct the money to existing health care programs. A groundbreaking ammunition permitting bill to keep bullets out of the hands of bad guys went through like a hollow point. And a mandate for porn stars to have to wear condoms (no one wants to see a porn star struggle with putting one on—that’s too close to real life) was rebuffed.

On a more local level, dead-eyed date-rapey mouthpiece for the alt-right Justin Fareed was defeated by Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal in the mostly conservative central part of the state. San Diego voters stood up to billionaire sports magnates and destroyed the San Diego Chargers’ ownership’s poly to pilfer hundreds of millions in tax dollars generated by the city’s tourism industry to help pay for a stadium to house a sport that no longer captures the public’s imagination.

Elsewhere in the West, Oregon’s Kate Brown became the first openly bisexual governor and Nevada’s Catherine Cortez Masto became the first Latina elected to the Senate. Even in the wake of the election, good things are happening: Seattle will remain a sanctuary city for undocumented immigrants despite Donald Trump’s campaign promises to deport and “build a wall.” Seattle mayor Ed Murray Thursday said standing by that pledge is “the most American thing we could possibly do” and the rest of the West is expected to similarly fall in line to protect the hard-working families, and in some cases, provide sanctuary as well as a clear path to citizenship. California Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) and California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) Thursday released this reassuring statement following the results of the election: “We will not be dragged back into the past. We will lead the resistance to any effort that would shred our social fabric or our Constitution. California was not a part of this nation when its history began, but we are clearly now the keeper of its future.”

Of course, it is not all burritos and bong rips out here. As I write this, protests rage on from Portland to Oakland to San Francisco to LA. The mostly spirited and youth-driven exercises in freedom of expression, civil liberties and First Amendment rights feature participants carrying LGBT flags, Mexican flags and signs that Trump was, in fact, not our choice and not by a long shot. Those from the alt-right who are decrying the protests as “temper tantrums” best better do something they apparently haven’t done since elementary school and crack a history book. Linking arms and marching for what is just and right is the way the fabric of this nation has stayed intact for so long.

And while the results of the election are what they are, and the peaceful transfer of power should be encouraged, that is in no way a mandate from the people or a requirement to accept one of the most ill-prepared and putative figures of divisiveness and derision in the world today as the leader we have chosen—especially because very, very big swaths of the country, and yes, the entire West—did not choose him.

For his part, Trump did the most irresponsible thing he could have and instead of encouraging people to speak out in a measured and non-violent way—including his own followers, he continued to dangerously trample First Amendment rights and blamed, who else… the media by tweeting: “Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!”

Or maybe he does believe in protests—when it’s a black man in the White House.

No accountability. No maturity. No fitness for the job he is presumably about to undertake.

But here in the West, a place where we literally are the people he has campaigned against instead of just an idea of them based on stereotypes and false pretense (read: Patrick Thornton’s recent op-ed about the real bubble being rural America) I know one thing: My grandfather used to drive me out to his work on Friday afternoons. We would float in his yellow Mercury down the dusty roads of Shafter and Lamont past fields and farm sheds. In the near distance the sun would be setting as it does, every day, over the Pacific. “See that,” he once told me. “The day ends in the West, which means we will always have the final say.”

Andrew J. Pridgen is the author of “Burgundy Upholstery Sky”.

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