Warriors

Monta Ellis reveals 'We Believe' Warriors were doubted by Don Nelson

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AP

Monta Ellis reveals 'We Believe' Warriors were doubted by Don Nelson

The 2006-07 season was unforgettable for the Warriors.

Entering the season with minimal expectations, Golden State climbed up the standings late in the year and secured the No. 8 seed, going on to knock off the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks in a legendary NBA playoff series.

Monta Ellis, who was one of the catalysts for that “We Believe” squad, says that it wasn’t just those outside the organization who entered the season with doubts.

“The one that people really don’t talk about is,” Ellis told Slam Magazine. “That year, [head coach] Don Nelson even came out in the paper and wrote us off. He said we weren’t going to make the playoffs, and we might as well start getting ready for next year and seeing what we could get in the Draft and whatnot.

“We had a lot of veteran guys on the team, and me being a young guy and hungry, we took that to heart. We all came together as a team then. I think we ended up winning 18 of the last 22 or something like that to end up getting into the playoffs as the 8-seed. With that run that we made, it was crazy.”

Ellis was the young guy on a starting unit with veterans like Stephen Jackson, Al Harrington, Jason Richardson, and floor general Baron Davis.

But instead of fracturing the team, the players actually bonded over trying to prove their coach wrong.

“We didn’t like that [Don said that],” Ellis said. “So we all came together as a team and we just went out there and played. Off the court, you weren’t going to see one without seeing the other 12 or 13 guys. We go to dinner. 

“Whatever we did, we were always together. It carried over to the basketball court. When we were on the basketball court, no matter if the times got tough or anything, we were always able to stay together. We had heated moments. We had heated situations. But nobody ever got personal with it. Nobody ever took it to heart. Everybody was like, Alright, we’re just trying to get better. We saw that. We saw everybody getting better. We saw the team getting better. So we just stuck with it.”

[RELATED: Five memorable Warriors' playoff moments that stick out]

Although Golden State didn’t return to the postseason until 2013, this group remains one of the most iconic Warriors teams of the 2000s.

As some of the players have said in recent years, this team definitely knew how to have a good time off the court, even with coach Nelson.

NBA rumors: Warriors privately 'cool' on playing when season returns

NBA rumors: Warriors privately 'cool' on playing when season returns

To play or not to play?

That is the question facing the Warriors as the NBA nears a decision on how many teams will participate when the league resumes the 2019-20 season.

While coach Steve Kerr said the team is operating as if the season is over, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Monday that owner Joe Lacob told his fellow owners that the team was "willing" to play if all 30 NBA teams were asked to play.

But ... Wojnarowski also reported, citing sources, that the Warriors have been "far more cool to the idea in private."

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Based on Wojnawowski's reporting from Friday, the NBA Board of Governors are expected to approve commissioner Adam Silver's proposal for a 22-team restart plan later this week, meaning the Warriors -- who hold the worst record in the league -- would not be asked to play any more games this season.

The Warriors don't have anything left to play for this season. They are the only team that has been officially eliminated from playoff contention. Does it make sense for the players to go through several weeks of training camp to play a handful of meaningless games?

"It's a hard thing to put your mind in that space, 'I'm gonna go out here and compete and bust my a-- and know in five games we're just gonna be back in the offseason again,' " Warriors star Steph Curry told former teammate Anthony Morrow recently on "The Life Podcast."

[RELATED: Warriors facility opens, players show up]

Would it be advantageous for the Warriors to get a brief look at Curry playing alongside Andrew Wiggins? Sure, but they don't need to risk injury to either player when the goal is making sure the team is ready to bounce back for the 2020-21 season.

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

Steph Curry reacts to Damian Lillard's comments on 'meaningless games'

Steph Curry reacts to Damian Lillard's comments on 'meaningless games'

Damian Lillard created headlines last week with his comments about the NBA's potential plans for resuming the 2019-20 season.

"If we come back and they're just like, 'We're adding a few games to finish the regular season,' and they're throwing us out there for meaningless games and we don't have a true opportunity to get into the playoffs, I'm going to be with my team because I'm a part of the team," the Portland Trail Blazers star guard told Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes. "But I'm not going to be participating. I'm telling you that right now.

"If we come back and I don't have an opportunity to make the playoffs -- I will show up to work, I'll be at practice and I'll be with my team. I'm going to do all that and then I'm going to be sitting right on that bench during the games."

What is Steph Curry's reaction to that?

"I feel what he's saying because it's hard mentally to go with this long of gap, and then prepare for games you know don't matter," the Warriors' superstar said on the "The Life Podcast" with Anthony Morrow and Justin Jack. "I get it.

"It's a hard thing to put your mind in that space, 'I'm gonna go out here and compete and bust my a-- and know in five games we're just gonna be back in the offseason again.'"

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Golden State did re-open Chase Center facilities Monday so players could work out again, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Bay Area's Logan Murdock. 

But all indications are that the Warriors won't be playing any additional games this season, and will not be included among the teams that eventually will take the court in Orlando.

[RELATED: Oakland's own Lillard rips Orlovsky for calling him spoiled]

"Between now and Thursday's vote of the board of governors on the plan to restart the season, the NBA is working to complete the details of a 22-team format," ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe wrote Monday.

So for Lillard and the Blazers -- who currently sit in a three-way tie for ninth place in the Western Conference -- it appears they will get the opportunity to claw their way into the playoffs.

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