People act like they forgot about Klay.
After 941 long days since he last played in a meaningful NBA game, Klay Thompson returned to the Golden State Warriors’ lineup in the team’s 96-82 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Thompson finished with 17 points (7 of 18 from the field) and three rebounds in just 20 minutes.
NBA League Pass: Sign Up to Unlock Live Games Off-Market (7-Day Free Trial)
The 31-year-old had been out of the game for more than two years while rehabbing from two of the most serious injuries an NBA player could experience: He tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in Game 6 of the season. 2019 NBA Finals and while trying to get back from that, he tore his right Achilles tendon in November 2020.
In Thompson’s last full season (2018-19), he averaged 21.5 points per game while shooting 46.7 percent from the field and 40.2 percent from beyond the arc.
The preparation for ‘Klay Day’, as it became known, was incredible as love and support spread throughout the NBA world.
MORE: NBA family reacts on Twitter to Klay Thompson’s return for Warriors
The roar of the Chase Center crowd when Thompson was introduced was deafening.
You knew the Warriors would be looking to get Thompson touches early, so it came as no surprise that he scored the first basket of the game for the Warriors, a floating run down the lane. However, from the beginning it was clear that he still had some nerves.
“I thought it was going to be one of those nights after that float I had, I kept shooting … I was nervous to start,” he said after the game. “I am just thankful to be here and the love I received before the game and the video tributes. It was special. It is a night I will never forget and it lived up to all expectations.”
Klay Thompson float on his first possession back pic.twitter.com/PjLkzCqa8x
—Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) January 10, 2022
Warriors coach Steve Kerr had said he would monitor Thompson’s minutes and pulled the guard out of the game just over halfway through the first quarter. However, when he made his return in the second, he was more like the Klay of yesteryear.
Thompson had the play of the night when he crossed over his defender at the 3-point line, entered the lane and sank it over two Cavs players.
At one point early in the third quarter, Thompson scored seven points in seven minutes as the Warriors extended their lead to 12, forcing the Cavaliers to call a timeout.
Thompson even hit two career milestones during the game: 12,000 points and 1,800 3s.
His return spells trouble for the rest of the league as the Warriors advance to 30-9 on the season, tied with Phoenix for the top of the Western Conference standings.