Andrew Bynum's rehabilitation was slow and eventful. There were numerous setbacks, with some strange ones along the way. But finally, after missing all of last season, Bynum returned to the court on Wednesday night.
Bynum entered the Cleveland Cavaliers' season-opening win over the Brooklyn Nets late in the first quarter to thunderous applause. The big man would only see the court for 7:34, but it represented a major step in his rehab as he tries to work his way back close to the player he once was.
Considering the short stint, Bynum's numbers certainly weren't eye-popping. The 26-year-old scored just three points on 1-of-5 shooting while also grabbing three rebounds and handing out two assists. However, he did make a nice impact on the defensive end, providing some rim protection with two blocked shots.
After the game, Bynum admitted to Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer that while his offense needed quite a bit of work, he was pleased with his defensive effort:
"Kind of like riding a bike,'' Bynum said. "Outside of offense, I think I played pretty well for playing for the first time in about a year and half. The timing [on offense] was bad, but defensively it's not about timing, it's just about effort. I think I went out there and played hard.''
As exciting as it was for Bynum to finally get back on the court, he knows there's still a long way to go before he returns to form:
"I don't think I've accomplished anything yet,'' Bynum said when asked if he felt a sense of accomplishment. "I want to obviously get back to the caliber player I was. That's going to take some time. I have to be patient.''
The next step is to see how Bynum's knees respond to playing in an NBA game. They're bound to be sore, and the Cavs are sure to continue to be cautious moving forward. It will be a slow process getting Bynum back to full strength, but there's plenty of time in this long season.