It’s been awhile since Danny Granger leaned up against the padded walls of the practice court at Bankers Life Fieldhouse to talk with the local media. He’s remained silent for the almost four months after receiving an injection in his left knee by the world-renowned Dr. James Andrews.
Granger had been practicing with the team for almost two weeks, but he finally slipped on his blue ‘INDIANA’ No. 33 jersey and checked in at the scorer’s table Saturday in the first quarter of Indiana’s 90-72 victory in Detroit.
Granger admittedly was nervous during team warmups and while waiting for head coach Frank Vogel to signal for him to enter. He was fidgety and went back and forth from sitting on the bench to stretching behind it. This was all new to him, because he had never really missed much time during his career due to injuries.
It took Granger almost 17 game minutes to finally score—on a 15-foot baseline jumper in transition as he sagged behind the play. Though his statistics are forgettable—1-for-10 shooting, two rebounds, one assist and a block—the team’s reaction after he made his only shot at the 9:25 mark of the fourth quarter was memorable and telling. The bench exploded in excitement, full of smiles and high-fives as a timeout was called. It was like Granger had just nailed the game-winner.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen my teammates so excited,” Granger said Monday after practice. “I was just happy to get one. I went into the game saying that I’m not even going to worry about trying to score. If it happens, it happens. I finally got one, and they were just as happy as I was.”
The reaction says a lot this team. They’re in it together and personal agendas are nonexistent.
“These guys are all pulling for him,” Vogel added. “We’re all really excited about having him back. While it’s gonna take some time for Danny to get his legs under him and his rhythm, timing and conditioning underway, it’s not a chemistry issue in terms of working him back. These guys are welcoming him with open arms.”