Draymond Green did not allow injuries to prevent him from sharing the court with Klay Thompson.
On Sunday night, Thompson returned to the Warriors line-up for the first time in 941 days. The 31-year-old sniper missed several seasons after being injured by the ACL and the Achillies, and played the first 38 games of the Golden State 2021-22 campaign when he got back in shape.
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The match between the Warriors and the Cavaliers was ready to bring the “Big Three” of Green, Thompson and Stephen Curry from the Bay Area back to each other, but the unfortunate injury ruined the long-awaited reunion. Golden State announced shortly before the tip that Green had experienced “tightness of the left calf” during the warm-up before the match and seemed to be forced to sit.
But Thompson’s moment was too important for Green to miss. He decided to take the floor in the opening tip, then immediately committed a foul to be expelled. Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters after the match that he explained the plan to Cavs coach JB Bickerstaff, and Cleveland agreed that the opening sequence would take place in this way.
Draymond Green isn’t playing tonight (left calf stretching), but he still wanted to be on the floor with Klay to come back.
So Green was at the opening tip and fouled to quit ❤️ pic.twitter.com/puAzOy3rxe
– ESPN (@espn) January 10, 2022
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“[It meant] so much, “Thompson said when asked about Green’s gesture. “I mean, I can’t wait to play with Dray again. It makes my life easier when it comes to shooting and defense. We were together on top of a mountain. We’ve had some crazy battles. I love Draymond’s competitiveness and it was just a good feeling to have an almost, almost full team again.
“I had such a story with Steph and Dray that it was really great to sit there with the two before the game and soak it all up.”
Thompson finished with 17 points shooting 7 out of 18 in the Warriors’ 96:82 win over the Cavs, but he didn’t care much for his numbers. He was just glad he “even looked at the report and saw my name there.”
“I’m so grateful I can compete again,” Thompson said. “It’s been a long journey. I’m also proud of myself for enduring it. It was a very special moment [that] I will never forget. It was, I won’t say, an equivalent championship victory, but man, it was damn close. … I mean, man, it was special. ”