Gordon Hayward was elated to put "dark memories and dark times" behind him and make his first appearance in over a year as the Boston Celtics beat the Philadelphia 76ers.
A gruesome ankle injury in the 2017-18 opener ruled Hayward out for the remainder of the campaign, but he played 24 minutes as the Celtics started the new season with a 105-87 win at TD Garden.
Video footage of the All-Star going through his recovery over the past 12 months was played on the big screen in the arena prior to tip-off.
Hayward – who posted 10 points, five rebounds and four steals against the Sixers – admitted it made him recall some unpleasant moments, but they did not linger for long once the game got underway.
"It brought back a lot of memories, a lot of dark memories and dark times, but to be honest it was cool to see some of the progression," said Hayward.
"It was amazing to be out there on the court again for a regular-season game. My adrenaline was definitely pumping those first three or four minutes. I think everybody's adrenaline was pumping, because it was sloppy at first, but it was great just to be out there.
"That was a big step for me mentally. It was a big confidence booster just to finish that first game. Being back out on the court – that was a big hurdle.
"[The injury] definitely crossed my mind … just tried to get that out of my head as soon as I started playing and as soon as you're out on the court some of that disappears.
"There's definitely still a long way to go for me to be where I want to be at, but it was a great first step and a great team victory."
Brad Stevens confirmed Hayward would be on a minutes restriction to start the season and the forward knows it will take time for him to rediscover his previous level.
"It's just part of it. Part of it is just having patience and knowing that it's not all going to come at once," he said.
"I think as long as I can do things when I'm out there on the court that can help us get wins, I'll be happy."
21. Januar 2019
|Zverev destroys racquet in Aus Open meltdown|
|From Villarreal to Aus Open quarters – Bautista Agut breaks major duck|
|Brees: I plan on being here next year and making another run at it|
|´Unf******-believable bro!´ - Brady stunned after reaching third straight Super Bowl|
|New England find answers, penalty costs Kansas City – three takeaways from Patriots´ win over Chiefs|
|Donald Trump congratulates Brady and Super Bowl-bound Patriots|
|Rose helps Timberwolves down Suns|
|Brady leads Patriots into third straight Super Bowl|
|Osaka overcomes Sevastova to reach quarters|
|Chelsea remain behind Sarri – David Luiz|
|McVay explains Gurley´s limited role in Rams´ win over Saints|
|Southgate hails ´tremendous talent´ Rashford|
|Long earns maiden PGA Tour win at Desert Classic|
|Flanagan resigns as Sharks head coach|
|Rams´ Robey-Coleman admits he committed penalty on controversial no-call|
|NFL admits they blew the call – Saints coach Payton|
|Terrible no-call, Goff shines – three takeaways from Rams´ win over Saints|
|Lonzo Ball to miss 4-6 weeks with ankle sprain|
|Patterson added to Australia Test squad|
|Zuerlein´s overtime kick sinks Saints and sends Rams to Super Bowl|
|It was a clear goal – Valverde dismisses Barca VAR controversy|
|Rashford can emulate Man United greats Ronaldo and Rooney – Solskjaer|
|Karmichael Hunt swaps Reds for Waratahs|
|Barcelona forward Dembele set for tests on sprained ankle|
20. Januar 2019
|Neymar insists Barcelona and Real Madrid links not ´concrete´|
|England trio Nowell, Slade and Cowan-Dickie sign fresh Exeter deals|
|Windies coach Pybus not distracted by detractors|
|Barcelona 3 Leganes 1: Messi and Suarez combine to spare Barca´s blushes|
|I´m sure Michael would be extremely proud - Vettel hails Mick Schumacher|
|Young plays down injury fears for England trio Launchbury, Shields and Hughes|
|Pochettino: Lucas Moura fit for Chelsea clash|
|Ranieri positive on Fulham survival chances despite ´unbelievable´ Spurs loss|
|United Arab Emirates v Kyrgyzstan: Zaccheroni confident in attack|
|South Korea lose Ki to hamstring injury|
|It doesn´t look great - Pochettino to wait on Alli assessment|
|Messi benched as Barcelona face Leganes|
|Dalglish texts me before matches - Van Dijk|
|Patrick Mahomes could sign NFL´s first $200m contract - reports|
|Iran 2 Oman 0: Jahanbakhsh and Dejagah secure last-eight spot|
|Helloooo u remember me? Nkoudou reminds Spurs fans he exists|
|Japan v Saudi Arabia: Pizzi believes Saudis can upset the odds|
|Repsol Honda´s Lorenzo to have surgery on fractured wrist|
|Fulham 1 Tottenham 2: Winks heads late winner after Alli injury|
|Leinster seal home quarter-final with win over Wasps|
|Vince, Curran star as Sixers trounce Heat to move second|
|Sharapova stunned by Barty as Kvitova takes Anisimova to school|
|Guardiola demands improvement after Man City win|
|Sexton has bat phone to referees - Jones|
|Alonso accepts Chelsea guilty of ´silly mistakes´ in Arsenal defeat|
|Guardiola woke us up - Sane reveals half-time rocket for Man City|
|A first step to something bigger - Tsitsipas eyeing glory after shocking Federer|
|Thailand 1 China 2: Gao Lin keeps dream alive for Lippi|
|Tsitsipas in dreamland after ousting Federer, birthday boy Tiafoe breaks new ground|
|Huddersfield Town 0 Manchester City 3: Danilo, Sterling and Sane on target for ton-up City|
|Allegri: Khedira will be like a new signing for Juventus|
|Manchester City reach 100 goals in 2018-19|
|Australia v Uzbekistan: Leckie´s return is ´like a new signing´, says Arnold|
|Jordan 1 Vietnam 1 (aet, 2-4 on penalties): Keeper Van Lam the shoot-out hero|
|Federer confirms French Open return after Melbourne exit|
|I accept his decision - Gattuso axes Chelsea-bound Higuain|
|The rapid rise of Federer-conqueror Tsitsipas|
|Gracious Federer hails ´better player´ Tsitsipas after Australian Open exit|
|Tsitsipas ´happiest man on earth´ after stunning Federer|
|Harden focused on wins, not personal feats after scoring 48 points|
|PSG midfielder Verratti suffers sprained ankle|
|Inspired Tsitsipas dethrones Federer|
|PSG´s Cavani considering career finale in Uruguay|
|Feisty Collins ready to make more noise after thrashing Kerber|
|I´ve got to work on my soccer skills! - Mavs´ Doncic didn´t know ejection rule|
|Lakers won´t rush LeBron & Rondo back despite Ball injury|