Klay Thompson has been waiting nearly 31 months for this day.
The Warriors officially cleared the shooting guard on Saturday to return to game action, and he will play against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday at Chase Center. Klay took to his Instagram to officially announce his return after practice Saturday.
Sunday will be an emotional day for Thompson, every member of the franchise and the entire Dub Nation fan base. Steve Kerr already has stated the five-time NBA All-Star will return to the starting lineup, so the pregame introduction surely a special moment for everyone watching.
Thompson last played in an NBA game on June 13, 2019 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors. He tore his left ACL when he was fouled by Danny Green on a dunk attempt. In one of the more iconic moments in recent Warriors history, Thompson limped down the tunnel to the court and shot two free throws on what was a torn ACL.
More than 17 months later, Thompson was working his way back from that injury when he tore his right Achilles during a pick-up game at a gym in Southern California on Nov. 18, 2020.
The rehab process was long, arduous and emotional, but Thompson has reached the end of the road.
Thompson started to ramp up his activities in the last few months and weeks. While the Warriors were on the road in December, he went down to their G League affiliate in Santa Cruz and practiced with the Sea Dubs. Eventually, he started shooting in an empty Chase Center before Warriors home games. Soon after that, he began traveling with the Warriors on road trips.
On Dec. 30, Thompson finally scrimmaged with Steph Curry and the rest of the healthy Warriors rotational players in Denver after their game against the Nuggets was postponed due to COVID-19 and injury reasons.
When the Warriors got home from the road trip after beating the Jazz in Utah, Thompson rejoined the pregame warmups during his normal slot with Curry and Green, another sign he was close. When he finished his routine Monday night, he held up six fingers, at the time, a cryptic gesture likely showing how many days away he was from returning.
In the end, Thompson knew Sunday was the day. He knew it had to be a home game. Warriors fans deserved that.
And now the Warriors, one of the best teams in the NBA this season, get back one of the greatest shooters in the history of the sport. The other 29 NBA teams are dreading it. Golden State players know it. Andrew Wiggins said the league is in trouble when Klay returns. Green said the Warriors will be a force to be reckoned with when the Splash Brother is in the lineup.
That day is coming Sunday. It probably will take Thompson a few games to get his rhythm back. But when he does, the Warriors might be unbeatable in a seven-game series.
For now, though, Thompson gets to do something that was taken away from him for the last 31 months, and that's hoop. There will be no sweeter sight than that on Sunday.