Remember when Warriors fans were mad that the organization traded Monta Ellis instead of Stephen Curry? Yeah, that was a thing that actually happened.
It’s less crazy when you consider the context. Ellis was the franchise’s best player and Joe Lacob was a new owner, inheriting a team that had made one playoff appearance over the past 17 seasons. What’s more, the return in the deal was an injured Andrew Bogut, who wouldn’t even suit up for the Warriors until the next season.
Things came to a head during Chris Mullin’s jersey retirement shortly after the trade, when fans viciously booed Lacob during the ceremony. It was after that that Ellis reached out to Curry to provide support, as revealed in a recent conversation with SLAM magazine:
“The fans were upset. Then they had this Chris Mullin night, where they retired the jersey or whatever, and they booed the owner. I think that kind of got to him because everybody was talking about me more than anything. A lot of people were saying they would’ve taken me over him. Being young, sometimes that’ll get to you. And I understood it.
So I just called him and told him, ‘Don’t worry about all of that, man. Just keep working hard. You’re in a great situation, it’s your team. There are going to be critics. You’re going to have people that are going to say what they’re going to want to say. Once you turn it around, I guarantee they are all going to be on your bandwagon.’
I just told him to keep working hard, man, and play basketball how he knows and stop overthinking it. Just play. As players, you get in that mode sometimes. I get that.”
Fans would eventually come around, and Curry made it easy on them, leading the Warriors to unprecedented success in the years following. Curry would give a nod to Ellis during the Finals last year, showing up to Oracle Arena in an Ellis throwback jersey.