CLEVELAND — Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton returned to the team Monday, sitting courtside alongside his teammates after spending the last several weeks in Georgia doing his initial rehab following surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee he sustained at the beginning of November—a return that may not be the only one fans see from Sexton in 2022.
“Felt good being back," Sexton said. "Just being back with the guys as well as in the arena and that environment, I miss it."
Sexton's rehab process, like everything he does, has been non-stop work. From crutches and a leg brace to shooting and dribbling from a chair to getting some light work standing on the court, Sexton has been spending every day focused on his recovery.
“It's an everyday process. I've been getting after it every day of the week and just continuing to progress and just continue to stay mentally, physically locked in and do as much as possible that I can and not try to rush anything, just continue to be patient every day," Sexton said. "Patience is tough when you're injured."
His recovery is now far enough along to allow him to return to Cleveland and be with the team—something head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said in November was something he was looking forward to and now that it's happened, is thrilled about.
“Seeing our teammate back with us, having him here with us, the level of excitement and the guys not wanting to disappoint, Bull brings that energy," Bickerstaff said. "You saw him on the bench, saw how he was talking to guys and pushing guys so it’s a huge lift for us to have him back with us because he is a great part of what we’re doing.”
In Sexton's absence, the Cavs, while still missing another ball-handler and offensive creator, have been able to rally together, boasting a 30-19 record and 33 games left on the schedule—led, in part, by Darius Garland.
"He's been playing great. Honestly, he's the head of the snake. He's been leading us to all these victories, as well as just being that they're vocal and their coach on the court," Sexton said of Garland.
Sexton said that he's itching to return to the court himself and sees ways he can provide strength to both ends of the court to help build on what the team has right now.
"Bringing that energy whenever the team is down, bring the energy on both ends," Sexton said. "On the defensive end, just being tough and just going out there and just playing hard. And on the offensive end, providing buckets whenever we need one or just getting everyone involved."
In the meantime, Sexton is taking on a new role and helping his team in other ways.
“It's been allowing me to go into a leader role, because I'm not out there with the guys I'm able to turn into another coach on the bench. And then pretty much just continue to uplift them when they're coming out of the game or going into the game and just give them some pointers," Sexton said. "It feels good to be around the guys again. I missed it. When you're sitting at home, watching on TV, it's a different type of experience."
Right now, the Cavs hold the No. 3 spot in the Eastern Conference and are just two games out of first. There are real conversations to be had about the Cavs making a playoff appearance this season, and while still unable to play right now and being patient in his recovery, Sexton wouldn't rule out a postseason return.
"I feel like when I do come back, I'll be ready to go and the game should be slowed down that much more," Sexton said. "I'm feeling good and mentally and physically ready to come back and be in front of Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.”
While Sexton continues his recovery, he's also looking forward to All-Star Weekend coming to Cleveland in just a few short weeks, and in partnership with Mountain Dew, is getting fans involved in a fun experience.
Fans can get special All-Star Weekend pins through Mountain Dew's Rep The Land promotion with Sexton, which also gives them the chance to win tickets to the All-Star Game and other prizes.
“Basically you go to different stores and gas stations and you buy two new drinks and you get a pin and on the back, you can scan it and you can try to win a ticket to the All-Star Game," Sexton said. “I'm definitely going to see the fans and just pretty much just interacting and [I'll] be wearing my pin. So whenever I see someone with their pin, I'm definitely going to call them out.”
Sexton will be downtown all weekend long and, like everyone in Cleveland, is excited to see the city in the spotlight.
“It's definitely really cool just being able to be a part of it, as well as it being in Cleveland. So it's just pretty much just showing the fans and showing the world that Cleveland has some of the best fans," Sexton saud. "At the end of the day, whether it's baseball, basketball, football, they're going to come out and support and show their love, and I feel like this is allowing us to to get back on the map and show that Cleveland is a basketball city.”
To learn about the Rep The Land promotion, click here.
Camryn Justice is a digital content producer at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.
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