Golden State bounced back from that anemic squad thanks to exciting players like J-Rich, Agent Zero and B-Diddy, but after notching nearly 50 wins in 2007-08 and becoming the rare case of an almost Ulysses S. Grant-certified team to lose out on a playoff berth, the Warriors’ summer contained more L’s than Laura Linney’s monogrammed towels closet.
First they lost Baron Davis.
Then the lost the bidding war for Gilbert Arenas when he stayed in Washington.
Then they lost Monta Ellis (for three months, at least).
And then they even lost their mascot, Thunder, who had to surrender its name to Oklahoma City.
With Davis bolting down the coast for the L.A. Clippers, Ellis was supposed to be the featured back(court player) in Nellie Ball for the 2008-09 season. The third-year combo guard was awarded for his swift progression from Mississipi high schooler to fringe All-Star with a newly minted $66 million deal in July, but what happened as the ink was drying on the contract can only be known as Monta’s Inferno.
A story initially broke that Ellis injured his ankle playing a pick-up game with his friends back home. You never want your franchise player injuring himself in a game that doesn’t count for anything, but you can live with it. Players play. You never want to discourage a guy from working on his game and even Michael Jordan had a love of the game clause that allowed him to get in a run anytime, anywhere, against anybody without having to worry about any repercussions when it came time to get paid.
Before Ellis could move on and issue a mea culpa for being just too darn attached to his craft, somebody in the Warriors front office examined the diagnosis a little closer. Cuts? Abrasions? High ankle sprain and torn deltoid ligament? Didn’t sound like this boo boo happened playing b-ball.
Turns out the freak accident occurred while Monta was riding a mo-ped.
One common saying in sports states “anything can happen.” The Warriors will roll the ball out for 82 games, which is about six dozen times that Golden State will get the opportunity to prove that the preconceived notions surrounding the team in previews like this one are wrong.
Let’s not forget that Stephen Jackson is still a capable scorer and gives the team a tough-minded leader; Andris Biedrins remains a rare case of a player who can get you 15-20 points and 10-15 rebounds without having a play called for him; Al Harrington is entering his 11th season but is only 28 years old; Kelenna Azubuike and Brandan Wright are on the rise after learning the ropes of the league; Corey Maggette, Ronny Turiaf and Marcus Williams should pad the depth of Don Nelson’s rotation; and Marco Belinelli and rookie Anthony Randolph are coming off impressive showings in the Las Vegas Summer League.
But, another saying in the athlete lexicon, “it’s not over until the fat lady sings,” is tainted for Golden State given the preexisting link between husky females and mo-peds. The chances of the Warriors making the playoffs in the tough-as-Teflon Western Conference might be over before the season even starts.
-- Dave McMenamin