The 2007 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.”
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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.