No one knows exactly when, but there will be a day in December or January when Dub Nation will be overcome with happiness. Tears of joy likely will stream down the faces of every Warriors fan in Chase Center and watching on TV at home.
There isn't a more highly anticipated regular-season Warriors game in recent memory than when Klay Thompson steps on the court to play in his first NBA game in more than two years.
Coming off a torn left ACL that kept him out of the 2019-20 NBA season and a torn right Achilles that forced him to miss the 2020-21 season, Thompson is nearing his return after two long years of rehab.
Thompson and the Warriors aren't targeting a specific date for his return, but coach Steve Kerr revealed Monday during Media Day that president of basketball operations Bob Myers told him Klay's season debut will come during a home game. That rules out a reported return on Christmas Day when the Warriors take on the Suns in Phoenix.
The fans in the stands and around the world won't be the only ones getting a little teary-eyed when Thompson steps on the Chase Center court for his first game. Even fellow Splash Brother Steph Curry admitted Monday that it's going to be emotional watching his backcourt mate play for the first time since Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals at Oracle Arena.
"It's going to be beautiful," Curry told reporters during his Media Day press conference Monday. "Beautiful basketball. Honestly, it's probably going to be emotional, for sure, because of everything we talked about. But I'm excited that it's as close as it's ever been, and will continue to get that way. I know the crowd is going to show him so much love, like he deserves."
Earlier in his press conference, Curry talked about always staying in the moment and never looking too far ahead. But as he was talking about Thompson's return, he allowed himself to look ahead to that day. The two-time NBA MVP paused for a few seconds and looked off into the distance before continuing.
"I just went to that moment," Curry said. "I told you I was staying in the now, but I just kind of went there.
"I'm sure it's going to be amazing. Whatever adjectives you can throw in there, it's probably not going to do it justice at all."
Thompson's love of basketball knows no bounds, so it's been killing him not being on the court for two years. The anguish was evident on his face as he sat on the bench the last two seasons watching the Warriors play without him.
Curry has watched Thompson go through the process of rehabbing the ACL injury, get close to returning last year and then tearing his Achilles. With the finish line in sight, Curry knows Thompson is going to have to show even more mental strength than he already has shown the last two years.
"Honestly, I've seen in how he has attacked this rehab versus the last one," Curry said. "I know there's some circumstances you couldn't control with the pandemic and being away from staff and whatnot. But just his commitment to this process, understanding the sense of urgency to do everything first-class so that he gives himself the best chance to get back to 2019 Klay.
"To your point, the awareness of the process ... I was concerned mentally how he would be because I'm sure there's going to be a moment, maybe Thanksgiving or beginning of December where he's going to feel like he can walk out on the court and play 30 minutes because he's got that kind of dog in him and he's probably going to feel normal. There's going to be a lag effect of when they actually give him that clearance to suit up.
"Mentally, to me, would seem like one of the hardest periods of his rehab, when games are going, you can feel the energy of the season and he feels good, he's probably going to be practicing with us and he's still got to wait. And just the awareness of knowing the slow build to even getting back to 100 percent ready to play but also 100 percent of what he used to be is great because you've got to be patient with it. And that's probably going to be a battle he's going to have to fight mentally, day in, day out, especially towards the end of his return to play."
Whenever Thompson plays that first game, there won't be a dry eye in the building. Even Curry and his Warriors teammates might need a box of tissues close to the court.