The story of Tim Duncan’s Wednesday night began 11 days earlier. He was lying on the floor of the AT&T Center, back home in San Antonio, afraid to get up.

A Washington Wizards forward named Martell Webster had just rolled into the back of Duncan’s legs, sending the Spurs’ 36-year-old All-Star forward — a guy many around the organization still call “The Franchise” — crumpling to the court.

Did Duncan, at that moment, fear the worst?

There was a long pause after someone asked the question Wednesday, in the moments after the Spurs survived a 96-95 victory over Cleveland in Duncan’s return.

Duncan took a deep breath. Sighed. And then gave an answer that should briefly chill the bones of Spurs fans from San Antonio to South America.

“Yeah,” he said quietly.

Wednesday at Quicken Loans Arena will be remembered for Kawhi Leonard’s game-winning shot, a corner 3-pointer with 2.9 seconds to go that sent the Spurs (42-12) into the All-Star break having gone 4-1 on the first leg of their rodeo trip.

In the grand scheme of the Spurs’ season, however, Wednesday will be remembered as the day Duncan officially got up.

Duncan finished his first game since Feb. 2 with 13 points, five blocks and six rebounds in 25 minutes. More important, Duncan was upright and playing on his left knee, which suffered no structural damage in the fall against Washington, only a bone bruise.