Klay’s back: Thompson makes emotional return

After more than two years away, Klay Thompson finally stepped back on the court for the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night.

Thompson, who suffered both an ACL injury and then an Achilles injury in recent years, officially made his return on Sunday at the Chase Center for the Warriors’ 96-82 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Thompson was in the starting lineup for the Warriors, and received a massive standing ovation from Warriors fans pregame.

Draymond Green fouled instantly after the tip, as he’s dealing with a calf injury. He wanted to be on the floor only to honor Thompson.

Right away, after a Cavs bucket, Thompson drove through the lane and dropped in a layup to get the Warriors on the board.

He subbed out of the game after about 4 1/2 minutes.

Later in the first half, Thompson threw down a huge dunk between a pair of Cleveland defenders — which sent the Warriors’ bench into a frenzy.

Thompson finished with 17 points and three rebounds, and shot 7-of-18 from the field in 20 minutes in the win.

“I was just happy to be out there doing what I love again and getting my rhythm back,” he said. “It feels really good … It was surreal. The ovation to start the game, I just was so grateful for these fans. It was special, I’m never going to forget this night.”

Klay Thompson returns after 31-month absence

Thompson tore the ACL in his left knee in Game 6 of the 2019 Finals, which knocked him out of the entire 2019-20 season. Right as he was getting ready to return, Thompson tore his right Achilles tendon in November 2020.

It’s been about 31 months, or 941 days, since he’s played in a real game for Golden State.

The Warriors officially cleared Thompson for practice late last year, and he spent time rehabbing with their G League affiliate before stepping back to scrimmages with the Warriors in recent weeks.

Though the Warriors have managed just fine without him this season — they are just half of a game behind the Phoenix Suns, who hold the best record in the NBA — Thompson’s return is something Golden State fans and players have been waiting on for quite some time. Warriors players even wore different Thompson jerseys on their way to the arena for “Klay Day.”

Thompson, 31, averaged 21.5 points and 3.8 rebounds per game during the 2018-19 season, when he was named to his fifth consecutive All-Star team.

Thompson will eventually work his way out of his minutes restriction. Warriors coach Steve Kerr said he will build that up slowly in the coming weeks.

Until then, the Warriors are just thrilled to have him back in any capacity.

Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors
For the first time in 941 days, Klay Thompson stepped onto the court for the Warriors. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)