The 2006-07 NBA season was a special one for Monta Ellis.
He won the league's Most Improved Player award, playing a pivotal role for the "We Believe" Warriors. Golden State won its first playoff series in over a decade, upsetting the defending Western Conference champion Dallas Mavericks as a No. 8 seed.
Those Warriors hold a special place in the team's history, and the award was the only one Ellis won in his decade-plus as an NBA cult hero. Ellis told SLAM Magazine he holds another memory near and dear to his heart: A game-winning shot against the then-New Jersey Nets.
Ellis' wide-open 3-pointer sealed the Warriors' 111-109 win over Jason Kidd and the Nets on Jan. 24, 2007, giving him a signature moment and Golden State a much-needed victory in its push to the playoffs.
"The game was tight," Ellis said. "I forgot who shot that ball in the corner, I think it was Vince Carter, and we ended up getting the rebound. Baron got the rebound and we thought Don Nelson was going to call a timeout, but he didn’t. So Baron pushed the ball and I ran the wing and it was, like, a 3-on-2. But he was more to the left side and J-Kidd had to [make the stop], so he had to play between me and Baron.
"He decided to stop Baron and Baron kicked me the ball, and I ended up shooting it and hitting the game-winner. That was the year that I won Most Improved. I would have to say that one right there."
The Warriors finished 42-40 that season, while the ninth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers ended the campaign with a 40-42 record. An Ellis miss combined with another loss along the way, and the "We Believe" Warriors would've never been.
You can probably say the same of any of Golden State's other close calls that year, but none will carry as much meaning to Ellis as his game-winner.