SAN FRANCISCO – Philadelphia 76ers goaltender Danny Green was eager to see Golden State Warriors star Klay Thompson return to the field after more than two years of being out of the game due to a recovery from a ACL torn, followed by a rupture of Achilles a year later.
The origin of Thompson’s 177-game absence occurred in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals between the Warriors and the Toronto Raptors. Green was a member of that Raptors championship team and he was whistled for a foul after trying to block Thompson. The collision caused the five-time All-Star to land awkwardly on his left leg, tearing his ACL apart.
“If I can pick up on this reading again, I would,” Green told Yahoo Sports on Sunday night. “Nobody wants to see a great player fall, and nobody wants to be the cause. It was not intentional. I’m glad he’s back. The match missed him.
In Thompson’s season debut on Sunday, he recorded 17 points on 7 of 18 and 3 of 8 on 3 in 20 minutes in the Warriors’ 96-82 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The sniper didn’t hesitate with his shot selections. Warriors coach Steve Kerr said the first game of the game was prepared for Thompson to move the ball, but he received the ball and instead headed for the basket and converted a 40-second layup. in the game.
“He wasn’t shy, was he?” Kerr jokingly asked. “It’s not that we expected Klay to be shy, but I was amazed at his composure and self-confidence after being away for so long.”
Three-time NBA champion Green said he felt bad that his role in Thompson was wasting a lot of time. Initially, there was a significant sector of Warriors fans who thought his contact with Thompson in the air was a dirty game.
“When it first happened, I thought I blocked the ball,” Green told Yahoo Sports. “I thought it was a clean block and then it fell, I thought, ‘Dude, he’s hurt. Let me make sure he’s okay. Some of the guys on the sidelines were upset. Many fans were unhappy. Obviously, I had a lot of backlash for this. But I’m trying to make a clean play on the ball, and just wanted to make sure it was good. … And then he came back on the field to shoot his free throws, and that’s where I thought he was fine.
“I had no idea he had torn anything up before the game, which was a big blow. It was hard to hear what was being said, but I didn’t see myself as the victim. My concern was for him. Their fans are big fans. They will cheer on their team. And whoever tries to hurt or do anything to the 10 or 13 other players, they’re going to fight for them. So, I had some passionate emotions from some fans, but every time I spoke about the incident I said it wasn’t intentional at all.
Thompson was cheered every time he touched the ball. His cross dunk on Lamar Stevens at the end of the second quarter was the highlight of the evening. During his post-game press conference, he was very emotional and humble.
“It was a very special moment,” said Thompson of the reception he received during the introductory roster presentations. “I will never forget. I will never forget that night. I will never forget the welcome we received from Warrior fans, especially myself. My God, it was fun. It was worth it. every day of being away and in that squat rack or on that shuttle board and conditioning every day. It was worth every moment. I was so grateful to just compete again. It’s been a long road, but I’m also proud of myself for persevering.
It’s been a tumultuous two-year period for one of the NBA’s greatest two-way street players. The way he plays the game requires a high level of fitness ability and an unrivaled work ethic. It was this same work ethic that helped him get back into training.
And that determination is admirable, Green said.
“It took a lot of persistence to get him back, man,” Green told Yahoo Sports. “It took resilience. He’s a great player, so I never doubted it. He’s a true warrior, no pun intended. A lot of people, including myself and the fans, are delighted that he’s back. We all looked forward to seeing Klay be the Klay we’ve known him to be.