After 25 games, Wilson Chandler finally got to put on a Nets jersey and join his team in the locker room.
Chandler, who was suspended for the first 25 games of the season after testing positive for a banned growth hormone, had to leave Barclays Center two hours before every tipoff to comply with the punishment.
He watched the majority of the home games either at his home or in a private room at Jay-Z’s 40/40 Club in Manhattan.
He said before the Philadelphia game on Sunday night that as nice as Jay-Z’s club is, he was much happier to be back with his team. He likened the feeling he had before the game to the one he had before playing his first NBA game 15 years ago as a rookie with the Knicks.
“It’s just excitement,” said Chandler, 32. “Having to watch those games, being away from the team, I was just hoping I could be out there and help at some point.”
Chandler was the fifth free agent to sign with the Nets this summer, after Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan and Garrett Temple. In late August, he got word that he had been suspended after taking Ipamorelin, a substance he said he wasn’t aware was on the NBA’s banned list.
Chandler scored his first points as a Net late in the first quarter when he came off a Jordan screen, pulled up at the foul line and hit a jumper. It was the only shot he took. He finished with two points, seven rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block in 19 minutes.
“I’m just thrilled for him,” coach Kenny Atkinson said before the game. “Any of us in our lives, we go through a tough time. He owned up to a mistake and knew this day was going to come. It’s going to help the Nets, help him.”