Veteran center Greg Monroe made history by becoming the NBA-record 541st player used in the league this season when he checked in off the bench for the Minnesota Timberwolves in their 108-103 home win over the Boston Celtics on Monday night.
Signed to a 10-day contract earlier in the day, Monroe had 11 points and nine rebounds in 25 minutes for the Wolves, who snapped a two-game losing streak. His big night Monday marked his return to an NBA roster for the first time since 2019.
The No. 1 pick of the Pistons in the 2010 draft played with six NBA teams over the next 10 seasons. After stints in Germany and Russia, he signed with the G League’s Capital City Go-Go and played 12 games before the Timberwolves came calling.
His odyssey on Monday typified the life of a basketball journeyman.
“I woke up at about 4 a.m. First flight was canceled,” Monroe said. “I left D.C. about 7 a.m. roughly, had to connect in Chicago, got here around 11, had COVID testing, got a chance to rest, came to the gym around 4.”
After meeting with Timberwolves coach Chris Finch and shaking hands with his new teammates, Monroe wasn’t sure what his role would be against the Celtics, but the 31-year-old said he was prepared for anything.
“[Finch] did a good job — even though I didn’t have any time with him, he put me in positions where I was comfortable,” Monroe said. “I was just doing things I’ve been doing all season with the Go-Go, so that kind of made it easy for me.”
He was comfortable enough that as the Wolves were closing out the game, they began running their offense through Monroe in the high post.
“He’s so experienced. He gives us a different look, some legit size and beef,” Finch said. “His rebounding was great. Again, you can just throw it to him and things kind of calm down.”
The whole experience has left Monroe little time to process what he has been through.
“It has been a whirlwind,” Monroe said. “I was just so focused on being ready when my number was called, I haven’t gotten a chance to digest it honestly, but in this league, you don’t have much time to digest anything. We’ve got another game tomorrow, and the Knicks are playing well. Right now, that’s what I’m focusing on.”
Well, that and learning his teammates’ names.
“I’m not gonna lie: Jaylen Nowell played awesome tonight. I didn’t know who he was,” Monroe admitted. “I think he played awesome, but that was my first time seeing him. The game is the same, the people change. Tonight, it’s a young guy taking advantage of an opportunity.”
ESPN Stats & Information and The Associated Press contributed to this report.