Isaiah Thomas made his long-awaited debut for the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night and showed their fans exactly what they've been missing.
The point guard was reportedly scheduled to play no more than 12 minutes but ended up staying on the court for 18 minutes as he got into a rhythm and performed better than anybody could've expected in his first outing.
IT ended the game with 17 points off the bench on 6-of-12 shooting and added three assists as he helped the Cavaliers snap a three-game losing streak with a 127-110 rout of the Portland Trail Blazers.
Speaking to reporters after the game, Thomas described it as a "special night" to finally don the Wine and Gold jersey and return to the floor after seven months out with a hip injury.
"It was a special night for me," Thomas said, per ESPN. "I haven't played in seven months, so to be able to be out there and compete against another team was special. Obviously to get the win was even bigger but just to be able to compete and be out there in a game setting, it was a great feeling for myself."
The 28-year-old's big moment came late in the first quarter as he checked in as a Cavs player for the first time and received a rapturous reception from the fans inside Quicken Loans Arena who were all on their feet to welcome him.
"It was a special moment," Thomas said. "I haven't played in a game, and you would think I was here for a few years and playing and battling in Finals with this team, but it was special for my family to be here, my wife and kids to see that, that's genuine love right there and I appreciate them patiently waiting and giving me the love they did tonight."
Head coach Tyronn Lue decided to start him on the bench for his first game of the year but he's expected to be inserted into the starting lineup very soon.
Lue has already confirmed that the two-time All-Star will be on a minutes restriction and will not play back-to-backs as he looks to slowly ease him in.
That automatically rules him out of Wednesday night's blockbuster encounter against his former Boston Celtics team.
But in just 19 minutes, the All-NBA guard showed how much he will bring to the team and the extra dimension he will offer offensively that they've been crying out for.
"He's very good, very good," LeBron James said. "Very dynamic. Can shoot the pill. Can get in the lane. Can pass the ball. He's going to just create so much for our team."