Festus Ezeli

Ex-Warrior Festus Ezeli returns for ceremony

Updated 9:53 am, Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Photo: Santiago Mejia, The Chronicle
The Golden State Warriors are on the court with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver for the Warriors’ ring ceremony before an NBA game between the Warriors and the Houston Rockets at Oracle Arena on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, in Oakland, Calif.

Former Warriors center Festus Ezeli has dreams of playing again in the NBA, but it won’t happen anytime soon.

“I started walking about three weeks ago, and it’s almost like a got a brand new knee,” said Ezeli, who was in Oakland on Tuesday night to participate in the Warriors’ pregame ring ceremony. “My first time shooting was this past weekend, and it felt good.”

Ezeli underwent left knee surgery in March and hasn’t played since signing a two-year, $15.2 million contract with Portland on July 8, 2016.

Ezeli got a nice cheer from fans when introduced before the game. The Warriors had representatives from their four previous championships (two in Philadelphia), and Ezeli represented the 2014-15 team.

Recalling when he received his championship ring, Ezeli said, “It was kind of a surreal feeling. It was a representation of all the struggles — everything we’d been through as a team and, for me personally, my whole journey to get to that point.”

The Warriors selected Ezeli 30th in 2012, the draft that produced Harrison Barnes (seventh) and Draymond Green (35th), and suddenly Golden State was a playoff team for just the second time in 19 seasons.

“We were playing against (Andre) Iguodala and the Nuggets (in the playoffs), and everybody picked us to lose that series,” said Ezeli, recalling the Warriors won in six games. “Going from then till now, the season hasn’t even started and yet the Warriors are favored to the win the championship. Obviously, it’s a lot of growth.”

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