“Let’s do a dub today, Klay,” the man said.
“We have,” Thompson replied.
All of this would have gone unnoticed – apart from the fact that the man who slipped past security wasn’t Klay Thompson.
Dawson Gurley, who has found internet fame as “Fake Klay Thompson,” repeated his years-long ploy Monday afternoon to infiltrate multiple layers of security at the Chase Center and pinned him to the Warriors’ floor for about 10 minutes. Security then uncovered the ruse and kicked him out of the arena. The seemingly successful stunt represents a major security breach in one of the most successful sports franchises in recent years, which has boasted some of the brightest stars in sports, including Thompson and Stephen Curry.
Gurley’s antics earned him indefinite bans from the Chase Center and all future NBA games. in one Letter, the vice president of security for the Warriors, accused him of intentionally deceiving arena workers by pretending to be a Warriors employee. The letter said Gurley could also face trespassing charges.
Gurley did not respond to a request for comment from the Washington Post on Tuesday, but said on Twitter that he would not allow media interviews.
Although the Golden State Warriors did not respond to multiple messages from The Post, team SFGATE told SFGATE in a statement that someone “misrepresented themselves as a Warriors player to intentionally gain access to unauthorized areas at the Chase Center.” These actions have resulted in an indefinite suspension of both the Chase Center and Kaiser Permanente Arena in nearby Santa Cruz, where the Warriors’ G League team plays its games.
Gurley, who is 29 and 6ft 4, has been impersonating Thompson for years. The Kansas native started playing basketball at age 4 and played for the nationally-ranked Olathe East Hawks in high school, but ended his career when the only way to pursue it was at a community college, he told Bleacher Report for a Article from 2017.
Instead, according to the Bleacher Report, Gurley began a career as a YouTube prankster soon after graduating and steadily grew his account to about 8.2 million followers. Many of his videos document non-basketball pranks, such as Gurley giving people free Android phones outside an Apple Store or stealing tip jars from fast-food workers and then giving them $1,000 if they object.
But the embodiment of Thompson was Gurley’s claim to fame, making him a Warriors fan favorite during the team’s previous championship runs in 2015, 2017 and 2018. He even received a compliment from the head coach Steve Kerr, who told reporters in 2017 that when he caught a glimpse of Gurley he thought, “Klay, you ate some extra burgers last night, what happened?”
On Tuesday, Gurley posted a video of his Game 5 escapade on his YouTube channel, which has been viewed more than 1.3 million times as of early Wednesday. It opens to reveal that Gurley has entered the Chase Center through a door that says “Media & Team Member Entrance”. He then placed his water bottle and phone in a plastic bucket and put out a metal detector before driving through a turnstile and past several security guards.
After winding through several corridors, he got to the courtyard of the arena, which can seat more than 18,000 fans. In the video, he attacks the rim, dumps jump shots, and buries multiple threes, the shot that earned Thompson a spot alongside Curry as one of the “Splash Brothers.” After an impressive round of shooting, Gurley capped it all by somehow blowing up a layup.
Then the video cuts to “The Day Before”. Dressed in boxers and an NBA Finals hat, Gurley opened a hotel room door to let in a barber. With a photo of Thompson on his phone, the barber sculpted Gurley’s facial hair to look like the basketball superstar, who scored 21 points on Monday to help the Warriors defeat the Celtics 104-94 and record a 3: 2-lead to take-of-seven-series.
At first, Gurley seemed annoyed at being banned from watching the Warriors play in person. He said on Twitter that he spent $10,000 on tickets that weren’t refunded, all because someone else didn’t screen the attendees. Gurley said he did whatever safety required and never claimed to be Thompson, although he wore a Warriors hoodie, basketball shorts and a gold headband, which is what Thompson normally wears. “Why should I be banned because their security is incompetent?”
Then Gurley said he wasn’t mad and understood why the warriors banished him. Was it worth losing $10,000 in tickets and being banned from the Chase Center for life?
“Absolutely,” Gurley said on Twitter. “I was an NBA player for 10 minutes, brother.”
After security escorted him out of the arena, Gurley roamed the exterior of the Chase Center complex. He was served by a man Gurley identified as the vice president of security the ban letter. “Everyone loves your enthusiasm, but you just can’t fool other employees,” the man tells Gurley.
At other times, fans would stop Gurley. Some thought he was Thompson. Others knew he was an impersonator. Everyone wanted photos.
A woman, who mistook him for Thompson, told him that she was working on the children’s ward at Oakland Hospital when he was visiting patients. She was one of the fans, if not the only fan Gurley got along with.
“Just so you know, I’m not really Klay,” Gurley told her.
“Aren’t you?” asked the woman.
Then a spark of approval. “You’re the impersonator?”
Without hesitation, she pushed on, undeterred.
“Well, that doesn’t matter. Let’s do it,” she said, snuggling up to Gurley for the photo she was about to take with a superstar.
“Oh my god,” she said. “This is fantastic.”