DALLAS -– Dallas Mavericks guard Monta Ellis opened up to the media on Monday about his past and the present, saying he’s having a good time playing basketball again.
“Coming here really brought joy back to me for wanting to enjoy the game and loving to be in the gym and working and wanting to get better,” Ellis said.
Ellis was a second-round draft pick, 40th overall, by Golden State in the 2005 draft, but it’s obvious he wasn’t happy there despite spending seven seasons with the Warriors.
“In this league, you go through your ups and your downs, your sunny days and your dark days,” Ellis said. “I just think that I was young and, really, was stubborn for getting help, because I always get things done on my own. Even for me to get in the gym and work hard to get where I’m at now, I did it on my own. Nobody had to push me, nobody had to beg me, nobody had to do anything. I did it on my own.”
He said his time on the West Coast and two seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks took the fun out of the game and made it more of a business.
“When I was going through that stretch and dealing with that, I wanted to get through it on my own,” Ellis said. “When I realized that I couldn’t get through it by myself and talk[ing] to other people that had been in the situation, it helped me a lot.”
In Dallas, Ellis is obviously feeling more comfortable. He’s averaging 18.9 points per game and 5.75 assists.
“It’s not more of a comfort level, it’s that we have a lot of veteran guys on this team that understand the game of basketball,” Ellis said. “With me being a young guy who had to teach the other young guys - and half of them didn’t want to listen - it was very frustrating. To come here with a lot of veteran guys who understand the game, you don’t have to do much teaching. The only thing you have to do is police one another and go out and play for one another."
Ellis said he still cherishes his days at Golden State, but the bad days put him in a deep hole.
He was desperate to get out of his situation in Milwaukee, where he played two seasons for a team that wasn’t winning. He started 103 games with the Bucks and left a lot of money on the table there because he wanted to make basketball fun again and put the business side of the game behind him.
“I left that money on the table,” Ellis said. “I’m blessed to have made the money I’ve made and saved the money I’ve saved. It’s not even about the money. One thing about me, if I wasn’t getting paid to play basketball, I’d still be playing basketball. I don’t do it for the money. I do it for the love, for the joy, and for the win.”
Now that he’s in Dallas, where he’s started all 64 games of the season, he’s convinced he made the right decision.
“I didn’t know what they wanted me to do [in Milwaukee],” Ellis said. “This season tells it all -- that I’ve made a right decision to leave that money on the table, to come over here to a winning organization, and be happy.”
Ellis said his first two stops weren’t the best for him, but his face lights up about being in Dallas.
“Those days are behind me, I feel good and I’m glad I’m in a happy place,” Ellis said.
Ellis and the Mavericks will be in Golden State Tuesday night.
“All of [the reaminging regular season games] are crunch time, every last one of them from this game tomorrow all the way to the end and whoever we play last, all of them are big," he said. "All of them can either make us or break us."