J-Rich and I are headed back to our former stomping grounds.
(Glenn James/NBAE/Getty Images)
Tomorrow I am going back to Golden State for the first time since I signed with Phoenix. I’m excited because I had a lot of fun playing there, I’m originally from around that area and I’m going to have a lot of friends and family at the game.
This is the place in the NBA that I look forward to playing at the most. When I was there, we had a great family atmosphere with great teammates, a great coach and just a really good organization. It is also special for me to go back because Stephen Jackson and Monta Ellis are two of my best friends in the league.
They say that your team is you family and that was the team that I was with when my mom died. The whole organization drove to Sacramento for the funeral and really gave me a lot of support when I was down and out. Baron (Davis), Steve, Monta, Al Harrington and Jason Richardson are really my family as far as basketball goes.
The closest relationship I’ve ever had with a coach in the NBA was with Warriors Head Coach Don Nelson. You know, we were kind of like a father and son. The first season we got along great, but last year we butted heads a little bit. It was an up-and-down year for me on and off the court, but to this day, he still text-messages me and we’re still in contact. We’re still very close.
I owe him a lot because he really got my career revamped, back on track and to where I am today. He’s such a great coach because trusts you as a player and he allows you to just go out there and play. He lets you figure out the game on your own. He gives you a general plan and allows you to be creative within that plan.
We were so successful because he didn’t put too many constraints on us. He trusted us out there and allowed us to be men out on the court.
When I was there, we made that great postseason run where we knocked off the No. 1-seeded Mavs in the first round of the playoffs. The Warriors were so bad for so long, but the fans loyally stood by us. They were very supportive and once we brought the playoffs back there, they went crazy. That’s what they had been waiting on for 15 years.
We sold out our playoff tickets in a heartbeat. But the thing that I remember most was that everyone who ever came to one of our home games or who even watched them on TV, they all said the same thing. Even all of the veteran players around the NBA said the same thing: that our arena was the loudest venue that they had ever been in.
It’s tough to say as stand here in Phoenix that another crowd is the best crowd in the NBA, but Golden State definitely has the best fans in the NBA. They are just into the game the whole time. They really rallied us a couple of times for some wins with just their enthusiasm and never-quit mentality.
Right from when you come out on the court they’re screaming and yelling at the opposing team and cheering for the home team. Some teams have a good home court, but the players need to get them going. That was definitely a place where the crowd got the players going.
My routine used to be to get to the arena really early – about three hours before the game started – and just get a lot of shots up. I would hang out and relax there because it was just a fun place to be.
Before tomorrow’s game, I’ll probably just nap, relax and get myself focused for the game. It’s a big game. It’s a team that we should beat, but they’re very tough at home, so we got to be ready for them.
I’ll probably meet up with Steve and Monta, grab something to eat and talk a little bit. And after that, it’s going to be gametime.