After two years out of the NBA, Larry Sanders returned to make his comeback debut Tuesday with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Sanders spent most of the game on the bench, but with the Cavaliers blowing out the Pistons late in the fourth quarter, coach Tyronn Lue was determined to get Sanders into the game.

He was so determined that he sent a ball boy into the stands to get permission from general manager David Griffith to play Sanders for the final two minutes of the game, according to

“I had to get permission,” Lue explained. “I really just wanted to introduce him to the crowd and have him get in, give him a chance to have a standing ovation. I thought it was good for him. When you go through what he’s went through, and you have a chance to get back in the NBA on a pretty good team, I thought it was cool.”

Sanders has been out of the NBA for two years. He previously played for the Milwaukee Bucks, where he had tested positive for marijuana multiple times and was subsequently suspended for 10 games. He provided fans with a video explaining why he stepped away, saying it was about more than marijuana and the suspension.

“I stepped away from the game for a little bit, and I know everyone thought it was for marijuana, but I had to develop some things on the personal side,” he said.

Sanders said he has received the support of his teammates, including LeBron James, who has been particularly vocal in his support:

“We’re here to protect him, we’re here to be part of his comeback, to be a part of something he’s been wanting to do for quite a while now,” James said. “We’re happy he chose us and it’s up to us to make sure this is everything he wanted and more. We’re happy to have him.”

Sanders said James’ words “meant a lot.

“LeBron’s reiterated again that they’re behind me, they’re supportive,” Sanders said. “He thanked me for my decision. It was all love. It was a great moment.”

About Kevin Trahan

Kevin mostly covers college football and college basketball, with an emphasis on NCAA issues and other legal issues in sports. He is also an incoming law student. He's written for SB Nation, USA Today, VICE Sports, The Guardian and The Wall Street Journal, among others. He is a graduate of Northwestern University.