When Damian Jones checked in with a few minutes left in the Golden State Warriors Game 1 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday, it marked the first time he’d seen the court in 164 days.
Talk about a recovery.
Jones began the year as the Warriors starting center. He didn’t exactly get starting minutes - no Warriors center consistently has in the last few years - but he was an integral part of the team.
After he torn his pectoral muscle, the Warriors center position evolved. Kevon Looney turned a hot start into a stellar year. DeMarcus Cousins returned from his Achilles injury. Andrew Bogut was signed as a reinforcement.
Jones - who was presumed out for the year, though the Warriors never officially closed the door - became a bit of an afterthought.
So when he was surprisingly activated for Tuesday’s game (a day after the Warriors had ruled him out), it was an exciting moment for not only Jones, but his teammates, and the fans. And, quite frankly, it caught everyone off guard.
Damian Jones with the most random return from injury— Marcus Thompson (@ThompsonScribe) May 15, 2019
Damian Jones checks in for the first time since early December. Wasn't expecting that.— Connor Letourneau (@Con_Chron) May 15, 2019
Even his own teammates were surprised!
pretty good Damian Jones impersonation imo pic.twitter.com/4TyTOxQeU4— Sam Hustis (@SamHustis) May 15, 2019
Jones logged a minute and 42 seconds of garbage time action, and looked spry. He made his only field goal, plus he added in a free throw and a rebound.
He may not see any meaningful playoff time, as the Warriors are going small with some regularity, but, given how much Steve Kerr is using his bench in this series, it wouldn’t be shocking if Jones is out there for some pivotal minutes.
Regardless, it’s a huge win for Jones to have recovered from the injury. Making it back on the court for the playoffs had to feel great.