View Full Version : Monta Ellis Slam Interview

08-15-2011, 07:42 PM
For the new issue of KICKS, I spent a sweltering day last month with Warriors guard Monta Ellis (and his family) at his sprawling estate in a gated community about 45 minutes outside of Memphis. In a wide-ranging interviewóreally more of a conversationówe talked about a variety of topics, from his thoughts on Golden Stateís coaching hire to how marriage has changed his outlook on life.

Even though it was for a cover story, I didnít have the space to fit everything into the piece, which is out now in New York and will be available everywhere else next week, so I figured during these dog days of August and the NBA lockout, readers might be interested in learning a little more about the high-scoring Jackson, MS, native.

On his status within the League:

[All-Star snubs] never did [make a difference] to me anyway.

The only thing I know is they (Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade) respect my game just as much as I respect theirs and thatís the only thing that matters. As long as they know when they come on that court and they tie their shoes up against me that weíre going to go toe to toe, itís going to be a barn-burner, there isnít any backing down, none of that. Itís just going to be us and the best team wins.

No, I donít [get enough credit for being an all-around player]. It is what it is. That canít stop me. Iíve always been looked at as this person or looked at as that person, or did this and did that, or canít do this and canít do that. I donít really listen to it. Iím going to do what I need to do. People know that I play defense. Do they give me credit? No. Do I care? No. At the end of the day, Iím still going to go out there and do what I need to do. You canít not play defense. You go look at the stats for the last five years, you canít be in the top threeóIím not saying the top fiveóin steals for the last five years and not play defense. [Rajon] Rondo and Chris Paul have been there, in that same realm, but you say they play defense. But when it comes to me, I canít play defense. I donít let it bother me. Out of everything, I let it motivate me.

Iíve got a couple tricks up my sleeve I might bring out for next seasonÖIím not going to say, but Iíve got a little something. Itís going to be a differentóI guarantee you when I step on that courtóitís going to be a different Monta Ellis and everybodyís going to know it.

On his lack of name recognition, despite his numbers:

You can say that because, for one, Iím playing for a West Coast team and being in the East or being here (the South), itís a two or three-hour [time] difference. When Iím playing basketball, people are sleeping or kids are getting ready to go to school, so I can agree with you in a sense.

Iím known more than people think and not more than I should be, but more than you would think.

Itís good to have the respect from your peers and everything, but I just go out there and try to do whatever I can do to help my team win. It really doesnít matter if they acknowledge it or not and Iím going to continue to do what I have to try to do to get over that hump, and eventually, one day, they will.

I donít really think about it like that. I donít think stats-wiseóI just go out and play basketball. Me playing basketball, my gameís going to speak for itself. If it happens, it happens. If it doesnít, it doesnít. The only thing that I know is I know that I went out there every night and left it on the court. Thatís all that I can ask for. I did everything that I can possibly do.

Thatís it. By any means necessary. Whatever I need to do. Thatís how I see it.

On being undersized:

Iíve been doing that all my life. When I was playing with my oldest brother, I was usually playing with the kids in his age group. My oldest brother is five years older than me. So, I used to play with kids in his age group. I never played with the kids in my age group, even when I was in middle school. When I was in middle school, I worked out with the high school kids. When I was in high school, I worked out with Mo [Williams] and them, when they were in college. When I was in high school, going up to my last two years, my junior and senior years, I was working out with Mo and them. They were in the NBA. So, I always worked out with the older guys. I never worked out with my age group or younger.

It was easy because I always faced that, my whole life. I was always the smallest one on the court. Always. Even in high school. Always.

On the Warriorsí future:

Weíre in a great position to take another step. We just need to add us another solid big man that can score in the post down there and weíll be alright. We donít have to shake our team upóĎWeíve got to make these changesíóno, we donít. Weíve just got to add a little few pieces to what weíve got. The new coaches, the ownership, everybody gets on the same page, and just go out there and see what it do. Put all the cards on the table.

I canít speak [about] years from now. Just have to wait and see. Iím not fitting to go ahead and talk about I want to demand a trade and do all this. No. If yíall trade me, yíall trade me. The one thing about it, Iím not going to go out and say I want to be traded, I donít like this. If I do, itís going to be closed doors, itís going to be private, youíll never know about it. If I do, do that. But right now, Iím just focused on being a Warrior for the next two, three years, however many years Iíve got left on my contract and go from there.

Winning an NBA championship. Thatís it. Thatís my goal. Everything else plays itself out.

On meeting with Mark Jackson, the new Warriors head coach, before the lockout:

It went great, man. He came in and talked about the changes that he wanted to make and what he expects out of the guys, and pretty much wanted to get the ball moving in the right direction. He came off pretty strong as weíre going to head in the right direction. It didnít feel fake to me. That was the great thing about it, because I was in a position where I didnít really know what to expect, but after that meeting, it really sharpened things up.

The conversation that we had, I think heís going to bring a lot and itís not just going to be him, itís going to be with his coaching staff. You can just feel that theyíre passionate about turning this organization around and not just to say something, just to blow smoke up somebody. Theyíre really trying to make a difference in trying to change the organization.

On Stephen Curry:

Most definitely [the Warriors have the best backcourt in the League]. I donít see anybody else. Name them.

Heís (Curry) great, man. What, itís going on his third year? Heís in a great position. If he just keeps working hard like heís doing, heís going to be all right. Everything else is going pave his way. Heís just got to continue to work hard, thatís all he needs to do and heís been doing that. This is going to be his third year. This is when heís reallyóreallyógoing to set his foundation. So, Iím looking forward to that. But heís been doing great. I mean, everybody goes through it your first two years, even sometimes, your third year. You go through it.

I talk to Steph. I just saw Steph last week. Heís going through his thing, heís about to get married, so I talk to him a lot, just trying to let him know that thereís nothing scary about it. Just take your time, just breathe. Thatís it. Youíve got different responsibilities. You canít live single anymore. Youíve got to think about two, instead of just one. Thatís all.

On David Lee:

David brings a lot to the table and thatís leadership, the ability to score the ball inside and outside, use both hands, rebound, really get out and run, can block shots at times. So, you pretty much have a solid four-manÖhe brought a lot to our organization and our team the past year.

On Dorell Wright:

Thatís all it is. When you get the opportunity and you donít have anybody harassing you or fussing at you about every little thing, you can just play basketball and itís like high school ball again, where youíre going out there and youíre just playing, and thatís what he [Dorell] did.

Man, I donít care nothing about no Mike Montgomery. But yeah, in a sense [Wrightís situation in Miami was similar to Ellisí rookie year]. I donít know because he was in Miami. My situation was different. I was in a situation where it was a college coach, his second yearóreally his first year because he came in halfway during the seasonóand it was really his first year. He didnít really know how to coach men. He knows how to coach boys, but he didnít know how to coach men. So, I was in a different position. I donít know what type of position he was in. I donít know if he was getting in trouble over there, we donít know. But it probably was a different situation. But he got his opportunity when he came to the Warriors and that was the best thing because heís young, just like I am. He got his opportunity and Iím glad it was now than later.

On Jerry West:

That part is out of my hands. Iím thankful and congratulated him that heís on board and a part of the organization, but I just control what I can control. Iím just glad to have him on board.

On his relationship with Warriors management:

Youíve got to look at it. My increase from what I was making to what Iím making now, thatís the highest [salary] increase in NBA history. If anything, I thank them for giving me the opportunity because if they never gave me that money, I probably wouldnít be the player I am now. Because Iím the type of player, when I get money, I like to prove the reason why you gave me this money. Theyíve done that and Iíve been doing my part and like I said, we had our ups and our downs, but hey, you go through that and you just move on.

You try certain things and sometimes, it just doesnít work. I feel like they went out and they tried to do what they felt like was best for the team and it just backfired. But hey, you live and you learn. If you didnít try that, then you would have never known how it was if you tried to do it again. Letís just look at it that wasóyou live and you learnóand itís a business, man. I look at it like that, too.

On leadership:

Iíve had a lot of great vets around me. Derek Fisher to Baron Davis to Calbert Cheaney to Stephen Jackson, Al [Harrington], the list goes on. Itís been a bumpy, rocky seven years, but at the end of the day, I look at it [as] where I am today and where I could have been, two years from now.

Iíve always been a leader, even from high school. Itís just something I was born with. Even being the leader to my family and wanting to lead them to go the right way, and a leader to my son. So, it was always a role, a piece that God put in my life with so many blessings that he gave me and that was one of them. Itís not a transition to me, itís just that I had to get back to it because coming from high school, being ďThe ManĒ and everybody looking up to you, then leaving from high school, going over here and have to wait to be the man. Then, everybody comes back and looking for you for that leadership, you just had to get used to it again, thatís all.

Because at the end of the day, theyíve been in the game a long time, so they understood the business and the game of it. Itís just like me. When I come in, Iím younger, then eventually I get older and somebody like Stephís coming in. So, itís the same thing, but they prepared me well and those guys always had my back and they always had good interests in me going the right way and getting my money the right way.

Youíve got guys like that [younger players who come to him for veteran advice]. You should. Youíre coming into a business or youíre coming into a situation where youíre not familiar with it, then the best thing to do is act questions. Itís like being in the classroom. If a teacher is teaching and you donít understand, the best thing to do is raise your hands. Youíve got guys like that and it goes back to being a vet. I can relate to them or I can tell them so muchóI might be 25óbut I can tell them so much because Iíve been on every angle, every side of it and I always put it out there. If you ever need to talk, call me. Iím nothing but a phone call away.

On entering the Draft out of high school:

I didnít even know. I took a gamble. I took a gamble in coming out of high school and going to the NBA, trying to skip college. I took a gamble. I didnít know what to expect. I didnít even know if Iíd be able to play in the NBA. Iíd just had knee surgery a couple months before the draftóbefore that pre-draft, all of thatóI had surgery and all that, so I didnít know where I was going to be or what I was going to be doing. So, I took a gamble. But when I set my goal that I was going to come to the NBA out of high school, thatís before I got in the ninth grade. I told my homeboy Marlon that I was going to the NBA out of high school when I was going into my freshman year and I didnít see that reality come until the day I got drafted.

If you have a dream to be in the NBA, it shouldnít matter where you go. Well, Iím going to say it mattered to me because I heard so many people tell me I was going to go here and I was going to go there. Because I didnít understand the business of the game. I understood the basketball partóthatís easy because Iíve been doing that all my lifeóbut coming into this big business, I didnít know that part of the game. For me, when I saw my mom cry, the only thing that I could tell her was that, ĎItís all right because Iíve got my foot in the door.í Thatís all I really wanted, was my foot in the door. I could have went the last pick in the NBA Draft. As long as I got my opportunity, thatís all that really mattered to meÖbecause I knew the type of player that I was, I knew the work ethic that I had and I had already scoped the NBA out anyway. I watch basketball, so as long as I went to a great situation and I went in there with a clear mind, where I felt like it was just me, then thatís all I left Jackson with. With me and a good mind, then this is what Iím going to do to make it.

On his transition to the NBA:

It was simple. It was rough, but it was simple. There were bumps in the road, but other than that, thank God it never got to the point where it was like, ĎDang, I donít know if I can do this, if Iím going to be able to make it.í I never got to that point. I always stayed positive about the whole situation, like thank God youíre even here right now, to even be sitting in this chair right here. Thatís all that mattered to me. But I already knew with the work ethic I had, what I was going to be able to do it.

It was three years where I stayed over there [in Oakland] and didnít really come back over to home. I just stayed over there. Yeah, offseason [too]. I just stayed there. The first three years.

It was something I had to do. It never got to a point where I felt like I wasnít going to make it or this is tough. It was never like that. I just had to do what I had to do and for me to make it, to be where Iím at now, I had to sit there, stay, the whole time. But I knew what I was going to do. I just had to be in the right situation, be in the right opportunity and I did.

Just my cousin [was with him]. And I was older than him. Thatís the only person that went. Me and him. But I didnít do but what I do now. Donít hang out with most people, I sit at the house, donít go anywhere. If Iíve got to go somewhere, if Iíve got to do something and Iím going to go do that, do whatever I need to do, but other than that, Iím not going to go anywhere. I used to sit at home, sit there and left weights, sit outside, go shoot basketball. Thatís all we did. Very simple life.

On Don Nelson:

Me and Don Nelson didnít always see eye to eye and it wasnít always peaches and cream, but at the end of the day, I always take the time to thank him for giving me the opportunity to showcase my talent, and for his style of play and the style of play I came from in high school made it really easy for me to adapt to the NBA. Heís a great coach, Hall of Fame coach. The sad thing about is he never got a chance to win an NBA championship, but he left a lot of respect for the game when he left.

On the ďWe BelieveĒ Playoff year:

It was great, man and then to go into that arena with the fans that we haveóitís unbelievable, man. Itís hard to explain. Youíre just trying to wait for that moment, to get back to that stage of your career, playing in that environment and those surroundings. It was a great experience for us because at the same time, everybody was behind us, but we were playing as a team that was winning. We were actually having fun.

No, nowhere. Even if I wasnít playing in Golden State, knowing the fansójust being thereóthereís no comparison anywhere. I donít see it. Now, when you can get a team thatís winning 18 games or 20-something games and you can still sell out the arena the whole season, thatís unbelievable. That says a lot about your fan base and then, on top of that, thatís not even everyone that wants to come to the game. Some people miss the game. So, I believe, truthfully, if we had an arena that [seated] 30,000, weíd sell out every night. Thirty-thousand.

On when his hometown started to recognize his potential:

Tenth-grade year. My ninth-grade year, nobody even knew me. They knew of me, but they didnít really know what I was going to do when I was in high school. They knew what I was doing in middle school. Everybody was talking about it, but they didnít know what I was going to do in high school.

On his basketball development:

Thatís all used to work with, was my brother. I just used to play basketball, man. If I go in the house and I see a basketball gameóit didnít matter if it was a college game or an NBA gameówhen I saw a basketball game on TV, I just went outside and played basketball, just did whatever move that I saw somebody else do. Didnít know who they were, I just saw them do a move and I said, ĎIím going to try this.í Thatís all I did.

It wasnít any one player that I just patterned my game after. Now, the player I used to watch after Mike went out was Kobe Bryant. But other than that, nobody.

I never really patterned my game after Iverson. I watched Iverson, but I really didnít pattern my game [after him].

On what heíd do if he wasnít in the League:

I donít know where Iíd be. If I wasnít playing basketball in the NBA right now, I donít know where Iíd be. I wouldnít think it would be good for me if I wasnít playing basketball.

I give all praise and thanks to God because there were days where I didnít know if I was going to make it to the NBA. When I got there, I hurt my ankle. I didnít know if I was going to be able to play the same way. I hit a couple bumps in the road, but Iím just thankful and blessed to be in the position that Iím in.

It was just plan A through Z. It was all on one. I just put it all in one. There wasnít anything [else] at all I was thinking about. Iíve seen so much and Iíve seen my family struggle for so long, and I knew I was the only one that could change that.

[From age] 10. Nine, 10. My oldest brother got messed up, soÖ

On his older brother, Antwain:

And thatís why I believe he wasnít successful enough because I donít really believe the family really put in the support that I had into his ballplaying. Probably the only people that went to his games were me, his grandma and his granddaddy, so I would say thatís a part of it, too. But you know, people make mistakes. Some people bounce back from it, some people donít.

On giving back to his hometown:

I just talked to the mayor during my foundation weekend. Me and [his agent] Jeff [Fried] have been working on trying to open up some small businesses down in Jacksonóhopefully we can do three or four, maybe fiveóto give some more job opportunities to my people down in Jackson. Thatís the project weíre working on.

I just feel like thereís nothing down in Jackson to do, no job opportunities, this and that. I see a lot of people in Jackson that went from making $20 an hour to $3 an hour, from making $25 an hour to making zero dollars. So, I see my city struggling and I just want to lift it back up by opening small businesses.

[A partnership with the Jackson Veteransí Administration is] one of the few things, one of the businesses that weíre doing in Jackson and weíre a part of, and weíre doing business with that. I think that itís not only a great opportunity for me, but a great opportunity for my son because he has ties in that, too. Itís just really for me preparing for my kids than anything right now. Weíve got a lot of little businesses going on and then, connected with the VA, the veterans and the hospital, and all the little things that are going on. Itís a blessing.

Even though Jackson is the capital of Mississippi, itís not as big as you think the capital of a state would be. Itís a small town, but you make the best of it. That little small town gave a lot to me, really motivated me to do the things that I do. Really, to me, Oakland is just a bigger-sized [version] of Jackson. The same type of people, just more expensive down there in California, versus [the South].

On his ME8 Foundation:

I do it really for the kids and my organization, which [targets] breast cancer and underprivileged kids. I go back, I give a check every year to the cancer foundation. I give a scholarship to a kid to Jackson State. Then, I just do school giveaways. I have my little camp. Itís something I always said I was going to do when I got big because a lot of people didnít do it. Me growing up, I knew guys that were from there, but never came back to show that love to their city or their community or to their kids, I wanted to change that, so thatís why I did the ME8 Foundation and tried to work it that way.


HUGE ****ing interview. Great read.

08-15-2011, 07:43 PM
Part 2

Lindsay Hunter and Erick Dampier used to come back and do camps, but I couldn’t afford them, so that’s why mine only costs $45. Then, if some kids can’t go, we give out at least 10 to 15 free camp registrations.

On being a role model to kids:

It’s different, but it’s also a great feeling because you’re doing the right thing. They see that this is the right way of doing things, just life period. I know when I see most kids, they don’t just compliment me about my basketball, but those young kids, it’s crazy when they talk to me about ‘the way you act’ and this and that, and it’s touching. And another side of it, when you have your own son, then you’re trying to set an example for him anyway. And then, with my son being named after me, I don’t want to mess up his name by something that his father does. So, I try to—try—my hardest to do the right thing the majority of the time. If I do [something] bad, I’m not going to do [something] bad in front of him. But it’s great because I was in those kids’ shoes one day, looking up to somebody from the neighborhood or from the state. It’s great because some kids, like me, I didn’t have the opportunity to meet an NBA player. When I was coming up, I didn’t meet Lindsay or Erick Dampier until I got in the League.

On how he’s changed since coming into the League:

I would say, shoot, being a father and a husband. That’s a different chapter, but it’s also a great chapter. That’s probably the biggest thing to me since I got in the league. Got older.

On marriage:

I was raised in a household where I was raised by my grandparents. So, my grandparents have been married 40-some years. So, that’s all I know. When I get in a relationship, it’s being committed. Don’t get me wrong; relationships weren’t like marriage. When I got married, it was a different thing. This is who I’m going to be with for the rest of my life. This is my soul mate, this is my love and that’s the biggest thing. You’ve just got to compromise and work together.

This is my actual home, but I’ve got a house in Mississippi, too. We’re back and forth. We just get more peace out here because my family’s big and I don’t see them very often, so when we go out there, it’s all just them. But when we’re here, we can just chill and don’t really worry about anything. Her family’s here [Memphis], but they’re still not going to come out here.

On being parent during the season:

It’s hard, but they’ve got so much stuff nowadays, they make it easy for you. You’ve got Skype, you’ve got FaceTime, so it really isn’t as bad as it used to be. , you just used your phone. Now, you can look at them on the computer like you’re really there. That’s the good part about it, but it’s hard and that’s another reason why, in the offseason, I just sit at home. I travel too much during the season. I don’t want to do anything. I’ll drive up and down the road, but flying, I’m not going anywhere.

Anywhere I go—Jackson, Atlanta, Texas, New Orleans—anywhere I go [in the South], I’m driving. I want to drive to Carolina.

On the lockout:

To be honest, I’m good. I’ve been preparing for it for the last few years. Then, I’m steady getting blessed every day. God, He continues to somehow find a way to send me something I need, so I’m pretty straight right now. My daughter’s (3 months old) healthy. My son (2 years old), he’s good. My wife, my family, everything’s in order. I don’t really have any complaints. I just hope it’s over sooner than later.

On playing in summer leagues or going overseas:

[B]Not me. Nope, not me. The only thing you’ll see me doing is doing what I’m doing, in the weight room and then, I have a trainer come here, I do my little court work, and that’s it. That’s how I stay the whole summer. I don’t play pick-up ball, I’m not fitting to go overseas, talking about playing. None of that.

I don’t play any pick-up because when I first got in the League, before my senior year [of high school], I broke my wrist playing pick-up ball—I had to get pins in it—so I never played pick-up ball again. I don’t do it. I just do my individual workouts.

We’re definitely going to do that when it’s time for us to train, but other than that, if it’s not with my teammates or my organization, I’m not playing pick-up ball.

08-15-2011, 11:57 PM
great read. im glad monta is being honest and wants to be a warrior. also glad to hear that he doesnt care to go overseas.

Lloyd Christmas
08-16-2011, 06:12 PM
Nice article. Monta has definately improved his interview skills.

08-17-2011, 02:50 AM
Please delete/lock thread. Asandhu apparently already posted it. Way to ruin my moment. :cool:

08-17-2011, 02:53 AM

08-17-2011, 03:26 AM

08-17-2011, 03:29 AM
ifyouseekamy.... :pity:

08-17-2011, 04:47 AM
why arent there questions..even if it says this section is about david lee or whatever, the answers are still all over the place

08-23-2011, 08:28 AM
Excellent read.

08-23-2011, 09:13 PM
hey wasnt monta ellis' album suppose to be released in july? has anybody heard anything on that? I cant find any more of his youtube songs... other than full time grind