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."
|BREAKING NEWS: Premier League to implement VAR from 2019-20 season|
|FSF urges Premier League clubs to reject Scudamore ´golden handshake´ request|
|Rhinos pull off Merrin coup|
|Ribery apologises for reporter altercation|
|Ford to captain much-changed England, Cokanasiga starts|
|Crotty replaces injured Williams for Ireland showdown|
|Classy Roshen gives Sri Lanka unlikely lead|
|Injured Lukaku out of Belgium-Iceland Nations League clash|
|Rooney ´passionate´ about future coaching career|
|Mehidy spins Tigers to victory despite second Taylor hundred|
|Rooney deserves special England day - Antonio|
|LeBron thinks back to his roots after latest milestone|
|Messi to return for Argentina next year - General manager Burruchaga|
|Walton salutes LeBron after he surpasses Chamberlain|
|Croatia´s Dalic and Modric not out for Spain revenge|
|Rondo to miss ´a few weeks´ with broken hand|
|Gabi, Juanfran hopeful over Oblak´s Atletico future|
|England rookie Wilson not comparing himself to Kane|
|WATCH: The baskets that moved LeBron James up the all-time NBA scoring list|
|LeBron moves into fifth on scoring list, 76ers fall in Butler´s debut|
|LeBron James into top five NBA scorers: Five quotes from league legends on his greatness|
|LeBron passes Chamberlain for fifth on all-time scoring list|
|Butler: 76ers need time to gel|
|South Africa lose 28-9 in Windies defeat|
|Delph impressed by ´special´ Sancho|
|Bolt may give up on football career despite ´a lot of offers´|
|We´re better than Dortmund – Wagner urges Bayern to respond|
|Raptors fans give former coach Casey standing ovation in return|
|Martinez hails Hazard leadership|
|Muller going through ´difficult´ period, says Low|
|Betances wants Yankees to sign Machado|
|Rays´ Snell, Mets´ deGrom win Cy Young Awards|
|Dinwiddie to debut Stan Lee-inspired shoes against Heat|
|Iberostar Tenerife and Segafredo Virtus Bologna stay perfect in BCL|
|Rooney wanted to finish career at Manchester United|
|Red Sox give manager Cora contract extension through at least 2021|
|WATCH: Ronnie O´Sullivan hits blue with calamitous break-off shot|
|Matuidi: Mbappe has a great personality, like Ronaldo, Messi and Zlatan|
|Cilic beats Isner to hand Djokovic semi-final spot|
|Mendy undergoes knee surgery|
|Warriors´ Curry will not play during three-game road trip|
|Ramos refuses to retaliate after Lovren jibe|
|Qatar pull off shock win over Switzerland|
|Tuilagi could make England return against Australia|
|Rooney has earned England reward - Sarachan|
|Croatia thrashing means nothing now – Luis Enrique|
|Chelsea and Everton among Arnautovic suitors, claims agent|
|TJ Watt hopes to win NFL sacks race with brother JJ|
|Modric defends Ramos after Lovren comments|
|Southgate hails ´outstanding´ Delph as he talks up England strength in depth|
|No war with Manchester United over Fellaini, insists Martinez|
|Rooney to wear number 10 shirt against USA and receive armband from Delph|
|I don´t feel pressure of Liverpool expectations, claims Klopp|
|Steelers´ Roethlisberger texted Bell but ´didn’t hear back´|
|Reus and Kroos to sit out Germany´s clash with Russia|
|Van Dijk happy to recommend De Ligt if Liverpool ask|
|Sauber announce launch of junior programme|
|No ´breathtaking tennis´ in Djokovic´s win against Zverev|
|Curran: England spinners will be key in Kandy|
|Djokovic charges past Zverev to move closer to ATP Finals progression|
|Messi is a football alien - Malcom|
|Sky´s the limit for Sancho, says Dortmund team-mate Pulisic|
|Radwanska retires from tennis at 29|
|Maybe one day - Pulisic open to Premier League move|
|Suso ´proud´ of Real Madrid speculation but happy at AC Milan|
|Betis president convinced Lo Celso will stay|
|Injured Holder out of Bangladesh tour|
|Germany face relegation, final spots up for grabs - Nations League state of play|
|James Rodriguez out for several weeks with knee injury|
|Curran´s brilliant fifty rescues England´s innings|