Golden State Warriors Return Date Set

One of the most anticipated evenings in recent Warriors history finally has a date: against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Klay Thompson’s two-plus season absence finally came to an end.

One half of Splash Brother’s pairing with Golden State’s star shooting guard, Steph Curry, used his “spirit animal” to make the news official in a video posted on social media Saturday afternoon: “Maybe I can help.” I can,” Bill Murray tells Michael Jordan in the brief “Space Jam” clip.

“How am I chasing tomorrow,” Thompson captioned the video. Then, in all capital letters, “I’m so excited to see you all promote. Let’s get it.”

After two and a half years of recovery from two traumatic leg injuries, Thompson received final approval from Warriors medical staff on Saturday. Prior to his post, shortly after 2 p.m., coach Steve Kerr played the daring role to allow Thompson to self-declare during his post-practice news conference.

“We’re excited to have him whenever he decides to come back,” said Kerr, tongue in cheek, knowing the impending news. “Work with me here,” he told the reporters’ room. “Let me help you read the tea leaves: this is not my declaration.”

With the news official, Kerr compared the anticipated sentiment Sunday night to Michael Jordan’s first game from a two-year absence, which also included Kerr as a player. It buzzed with a post-season atmosphere but for a special moment rather than a consequence.

“We’ve known for a long time that the night of Kel’s comeback will be one of the most emotional games any of us will be a part of,” Kerr said. “There’s a sense of reinforcement coming in, but there’s also a feeling that everyone likes to be around Kel.”

As he exited the interview room, Juan Toscano-Andersen had a message for the gathered reporters: “See you all at the show tomorrow.”

Thompson last played in an NBA game on June 13, 2019. Thompson, who averaged 26.0 points through the first five games of that year’s NBA Finals, already had 30 points from the third quarter’s 2:22 in Game 6. Then he went to take a dip in the alley, collapsed on the floor, and has been working his way up ever since.

Thompson will be included in the starting lineup, but coach Steve Kerr has said that initially he expects to limit his minutes to around 15 to 20 per game. Warriors has taken care to manage expectations for Thompson as he makes an almost unprecedented recovery from tears to his left anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and right Achilles tendon.

“We know who he is, we know what kind of player he is, but we also want to give him the space he needs to find his rhythm and timing after two and a half years off,” Kerr said this week. needed.” ,

Prior to his injuries, Thompson recorded his fifth straight season averaging 20.0 or more points and his seventh with over 200 3-pointers (the only player to achieve that feat other than his fellow Splash Brothers). During his rehab, he felt left out of the list of the 76 greatest players of his time, and soon after, a number 77 practice jersey became a frequent uniform (before the headband).

“The last time I played, I was one of the best players in the world,” Thompson said when he returned to practice in November. “I don’t want to come back and be my own shell.”

That said, Thompson admitted to looking at some stats prior to his injury. Now that he’s back on the court, “I kind of scratched it,” he said. “I have an open canvas as to what’s going to happen. … I know over time, whether it’s toward playoff time later this year or next year, my numbers will be great again.

When Thompson fired his first silky smooth jump shot on Sunday, 941 days would have passed since his last one, enough time for the Warriors to build a new, billion-dollar arena on the San Francisco waterfront, the Oracle of Oakland. A little easier commute than the Arena to Thompson on his 37-foot onboard.

At around 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, with the lights dimming and the players dancing, Klay Thompson’s name will emerge from the public address system inside the Chase Center for the first time. Then, he’ll take to the court for the first time ever alongside Steph Curry and Drummond Greene and Kevon Looney, and for the first time with Andrew Wiggins.

In anticipation, ticket prices climbed to record lows, with a primo seat listing as high as $25,000.

In addition to a shiny, new field, Thompson has new pieces to play for on the court: most notably Wiggins, whom Golden State acquired nearly seven months into Thompson’s rehab from his initial injury. Player Thompson replacing in the starting lineup, Jordan Poole, was drafted weeks after Thompson’s initial injury and evolved from a potential bust to a cornerstone while Thompson was away.

In the final stages of rehab from his initial injury, Thompson tore his opposite Achilles tendon during a workout in Southern California. He underwent surgery on November 25, 2020, and was cleared to resume contact work in practice exactly 12 months later, setting off the final stage of an almost unprecedented recovery process.

There was a thunder of return in time around Christmas. But the holiday game in Phoenix served as a different milestone: Thompson traveled with his teammates for the first time. On his next road trip, he’ll scuffle with Curry for the first time, giving the two a Sunday night trial run.

Thompson called the scuffle inside Denver’s Ball Arena after his game, which was postponed Thursday night against the Nuggets, “a big moment for me.”

As soon as his return became apparent, his teammates stopped hiding their enthusiasm. The anticipation that has enthused the fan base for those who have watched Thompson’s plight for the past two and a half years is only more evident.