The Warriors held their annual media day Friday at team headquarters on the eve of training camp. Not surprisingly, captain Stephen Jackson drew the largest crowd of the day. The irrepressible and entertaining Jackson didn’t disappoint. He had plenty to say on a wide array of topics, from his team’s revamped roster, the loss of Baron Davis, his push for a contract extension and Monta Ellis’ moped accident:
Q: What were you thinking as all the roster stuff was happening with your team?
A: “Uh. What was I thinking? What are we doing? But at the same time, I knew that we had to get better. I definitely think we’re better. Losing B.D. is always going to hurt. Can’t explain that. We did the best that we could with losing B.D., and I think we did a great job. We have a deeper team, a bigger team. Our size was a big problem last year. We made some good adjustments. I’m happy about it. I can’t complain.”
Q: Are you the only captain now?
A: “I don’t know. We haven’t even discussed that yet. I’m sure somebody else will get promoted to captain.”
Q: Can you talk about losing Baron? You sound like that’s really tough on you.
A: “It hurt because me and Baron were close friends off the court as we were on the court. Everyone knows Baron is one of the best players in this league. He was a big part of what we did. He was a big part of our success since I got traded here. I mean, it hurt. Anybody who says it didn’t hurt, they’re lying. It definitely hurt. But at the same time, you all know I’m not the guy to sit there and ponder on things and just sit there and let it linger. Baron’s gone. We’ve got to move on. I wish him the best. He got his contract. He’s back at home. He can take better care of his grandmother. So it worked out for him. We still got a job to do. We’re going to do the best we can.”
Q: How difficult will it be to replace him and start the season without Monta?
A: “You can’t replace Baron Davis. It’s a lot of things we have to address, but I think as a team we’re going to have to really sit down and understand what’s at stake and what we have to do with losing Monta and losing B.D. There’s some major adjustments we have to make. It’s not going to be easy. But at the same time we’re going to approach it with confidence. We’re still a team, we’re still a family, we still have to get the job done regardless who is here. Last year they had to try to win games (without) me. It didn’t happen, but… So we’re going to have to try to find ways to win without Monta and continue to move on.”
Q: What do you think about the Monta situation? Have you talked to him at all?
A: “Yeah. I talk to him every day. I talk to Monta all the time. One thing about it is Monta has good spirits. That’s the good thing about it. Things happen in life. I know I’ve had my own incidents. I got hit by a car at 28 and survived it. So I’m pretty sure he’s going to be fine.”
Q: Have you ever driven a moped and would you ever drive a moped?
A: “Never rode a moped. That’s not my thing. If I ride anything, it’s going to have four wheels.”
Q: What do you think about potential punishment for Monta? Would you be bothered if they hit him with a pretty big punch?
A: “You know what? I’m going to leave that in their hands. I think my job is to be his teammate and support him through what he’s going through and when he comes back just support him until he gets healthy. I can’t handle that. My opinion don’t even matter, so I’m not going to even make one.”
Q: Some people think that he, because he was given the contract and obviously a huge role on this team, he maybe let his teammates down. What do you think about that?
A: “Well, things happen, man. I think Monta, it’s an unfortunate incident. He might feel like he let us down, but at the same time, he’s going to bounce back. You know what I mean? Things happen, man. I don’t feel like he let me down. We all make poor choices in our life, and he made a bad decision. He got to deal with it, really. … At the end of the day, he’s the one who wakes up every morning and realizes he made a big mistake. The good thing about it is he’s got a chance to get healthy and come back. And that’s what we’re looking forward to.”
Q: What do you know about your new teammates like Corey Maggette and Marcus Williams?
A: “Well, I don’t know too much about Marcus, but the last couple days me and Marcus – we stay in the same building, for now – me and Marcus, we hung out … Marcus, he’s a good kid. I see he has a good work ethic and he wants to play, he wants to help this team. Me and Corey go back because Corey has some family members from my home town. And a good friend of mine, who’s from my home town, was living with him in L.A. So we have a little history. Corey’s a great guy. I know his family. I know he plays hard. One thing about Corey, he wants to win. That’s all I can expect from guys.”
Q: Ronny Turiaf?
A: “Turiaf, he called me this summer. I think he’s going to be another M.P. (Mickael Pietrus) because, M.P.’s one of those guys from France that really wanted to be Americanized so bad. I think Turiaf is one of those guys. I think he’s going to fit in well. I think if we would have had him last year, we would have definitely made the playoffs. He is something we definitely need because now I don’t have to guard Amare Stoudemire and Chris Bosh. So I’m definitely happy he’s here.”
Q: You mentioned over the summer that you were seeking a contract extension. What’s the state of that?
A: “I had some talks with Bobby (Rowell) and them. I have a good feeling things are going to be taken care of. I’m not one of those guys who’s going to sit around and not play my hardest … and be a locker room cancer because it’s not done. I’m just going to leave it in God’s hands, and I’m pretty sure -- I have a good relationship with Bobby -- it’s going to get taken care of.”
Q: If you do play this contract out, is that OK to you?
A: “That’s fine. Because at the end of the day, I’m still taking care of my family, I’m still playing basketball. So I’m happy with that.”
Q: Is there any question in your mind about (the team’s) financial commitment to the players, letting Baron go, and other things that have happened?
A: “Letting Baron go hurt everybody, like I said. Even with J-Rich (Jason Richardson). I can’t put myself in their shoes because I’m a totally different person, and my situation is totally different. Like I said, I have enough confidence Bobby and (Chris) Cohan that they’ll get it taken care of. I’ll let B.D. and J-Rich speak on their situations.”
Q: A year and a half ago, this team was flying so high. It seems like this has been a pretty tumultuous offseason. Where do you gauge where the franchise is right now?
A: “Well, I can say that we’re younger, they’re going in a younger direction, which I understand. From the year I got trade here to losing J-Rich to losing Baron, it’s definitely been a doozey. At the same time, we can’t cry over spilt milk. We’ve got to go. We’ve got to keep moving. We all got a job to do. … We talk about it still. I was talking to Rico (Hines) last night about how I miss B.D. I wish he was here. But at the same time we got to get it done. You can’t complain about it.”
Q: They say your role is going to change. They’re going to need some ball-handling now.
A: “I’m going to have to be more of a playmaker. I made plays last year, but I didn’t have to make as much with Baron. He made a lot of plays for guys. I’m definitely going to have to be more of a playmaker. I never thought I’d be in my ninth year the oldest player on the team. I’ll tell you that. I know me. I embrace every role. I really don’t complain about nothing. I take the punches and roll with it. I think the young guys are going to have to learn quicker. That’s definitely a must. And us older guys are going to have to support them more. We’re going to have to be more focused as far as supporting the young guys and being ready to play because we’ve got a whole bunch of young guys, and we don’t know how long it’s going to take them to get ready and when they’re going to be ready to play. I think guys like me, Corey, Al (Harrington), when Monta comes back, Turiaf, even Andris (Biedrins), have to be ready to play from the beginning of the season.”
Q: Are you looking at it like you’re pretty much the vocal guy now?
A: “I was the vocal guy even with B.D. here.”
Q: I mean the only one now.
A: “Corey, you all going to see a different side of Corey. Corey’s a guy, he’s really a talker. He really supports his teammates, and he really gets in guys’ faces when he needs to. I think he’ll definitely help me in that situation. B.D. didn’t really talk that much, anyway. If B.D. was talking, it was jokes. It’s something that we all embrace. I think we’re going to have to accept criticism, even me, and be able to give it at the same time.”
Q: Of the young guys that you know on the team, who do you think … is ready to step up?
A: “I don’t really know any of them. But as far as seeing them play, I think Marcus (Williams), and I’ve seen Anthony (Morrow) play. He’s really been the talk of preseason camp and rookie draft camps actually. He played real well in Utah. I’ve seen him play a couple days here. I think that kid can really help us out. Marcus is definitely a must have, especially with Monta being out. He’s somebody we’re going to need to definitely come in and give us a lot of work. Those two guys, I’m really high on. I haven’t seen Randolph play yet, but a lot of guys speak on him, so I’m ready to see what he can do.”
Q: When you say playoffs, is it a realistic goal?
A: “I come into the season saying championship. My expectations are always high for us. I never say we come in and settle for just the playoffs or settle for just winning a certain amount of games. You’ve got to come into every season feeling like you can win a championship. Now realistically, with our team, no one probably would think that, but that’s how I have to be as far as being a captain of the team and supporting all these young guys. I think the biggest thing for us, what we’re going to have to do realistically, is take it game by game. We don’t know where we’re going to go and we don’t know how good we’re going to be because we have so many new players. I think we’ve just got to take it game by game and see where we go.”
Q: You’ve been on a bunch of teams. You have two more years left. You say you want an extension. Do you want to retire a Warrior?
A: “I would love to. I would love to. I bounced around a lot, and a lot of times where I got relocated I felt it wasn’t fair. But at the same time I dealt with it. If it happened where I could retire here, I would love to. I would love to.”
Q: Even if they went through a transition period in the last part of your open window?
A: “Yes. I’m willing to do it. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t be making this money, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing nowhere else. I’ve been overseas. I’ve been in situations where I was down and out. I’m happy. I’m happy. So I have no reason to complain. I have no reason to whine about anything. Everybody wants their money. Everybody wants their contract. But one thing about me, I just let it take care of itself. I let my play take care of it. I have enough confidence it’s going to happen.”
Q: Does it add to the uncertainty that (Chris) Mullin and (Don Nelson) are on their last years, too?
A: “I can’t really speak on their situation because they’re different from mine. I’m a player, he’s a coach, he’s a GM. I don’t know what goes on in their meetings. I know what goes on in my meetings that I feel confident that mine’s going to get taken care of. I wish everybody the best, but I can’t speak on their issues.”
Q: Would you want negotiations cut off at a certain point, like when the season starts no more talking? Or would you think this could go on?
A: “Talking will stop when it’s done. That’s just only right. I don’t think no one wants to stop talking about it. When it’s done, that’s when talking stops. I’m being as real with you as possible. When things are taken care of, that’s when everything will be fine.”
Q: Marcus (Williams) is a different point guard, he’s a true point guard. How does that change how this team operates?
A: “I think the difference between him and Monta is Monta’s faster. Marcus is more of a passer. So I think with Monta being out, it’s going to help us because it gives Al (Harrington) a chance to get in a good groove from the jump. … We still can get out and with work get some easy baskets. Not having B.D., we need someone to make plays. I think he’ll come in and fill that role of making plays and definitely help our offense with Monta being out.”
Q: Does the contract uncertainty of players and the coach and the GM take a toll?
A: “I think it was more of a toll last year because all the contract (uncertainty) was in the locker room. You had Matt (Barnes), you had B.D., you had Monta, you had Andris. This year it’s not like that. Ninety percent of the guys are taken care of. And I’m not going to hear me talk about my contract every day in the meeting. You all know I’m trying to get it done. That’s the end of it. It’s going to get done. Coaches, they don’t bring there stuff to the locker room. It stays in the coaches’ office and it stays upstairs. Coaches are barely even in the locker room. All that stuff goes on in the locker room with the players, that’s fine. …”
Q: Do players look at coaches differently if … they’re potentially leaving?
A: “I don’t think anybody on this team can really think about if coach is leaving or not because a lot of these guys are still trying to get jobs. None of us is guaranteed to still be here. And I think the situation where we worry about the coach’s contract, we can’t worry about that. Because guys are worrying about playing time, guys are worrying about getting some security in the league. And you can see a lot of guys still trying to get jobs. So I think that’s their main focus, not worrying about whether the coach will be here next year.”
Q: With all those guys with their contracts coming up, was that a distraction last year?
A: “I’m going to be real with you. It was talked about a little too much. Considering the year we had before, all the success we had, I think that took away from our focus. Matt was worried about his contract, B.D. Everybody was talking about it too much instead of talking about what we needed to do to win games. It was a cancer last year, and that’s the good thing about this year. We’re better on paper and we won’t have to worry about no one talking about that in the locker room. Because than can become a cancer if guys start worrying more about their issues than the team issues. That’s why you can’t win.”
Q: Did it get more and more as the season went on?
A: “Yes. Definitely, definitely.”
Q: You’re better on paper than you were last year or with the contract situation?
A: “Paper, as far as down the line, as far as our roster.”
Q: You think this year’s team is better right now?
A: “I know we are. Yes. Yes. You know I ain’t going to shoot you no bull… I’m going to tell you what’s real. I think we’re definitely better.”
A: “Because we’re bigger. I think we’re younger. Last year we played with six guys. By the end of the season, me and B.D. didn’t have no gas. We were tired. This year we can go deeper on the bench. If these young guys catch on quicker, we can go deeper on the bench and play less minutes. You know I don’t want to come out of the game anyway. But at the same time, we’re a deeper team. We’ve got a lot of young guys that have a lot of energy, so we might as well let them use it.”
Q: The best amount of minutes for you would be what?
A: “The whole game.”
A: “Realistically I play the whole game.”
Q: At your best?
A: “At my best, I would say 38 minutes, 38 or 40 minutes.”
Q: Is this your team?
A: “Definitely. I’m coming here saying it’s my team because I have the most experience as far as from playoffs to regular season. I’m the only one with a championship. Even when I come in here, I have guys on the team saying it’s my team. I have to embrace it like that. At the same time, I’m still a team player. But I’m going to be the guy that if we go on a five-game losing streak – you guys all know me – I’m going to be the guy to take the blame. And I don’t mind doing that because I’d do it for my team any day.”
Q: Have you given Monta any advice? He’s kind of being hammered for lying, for maybe not being as forward as maybe you’d expect a leader on the team to be. Have you given him advice?
A: “I just told him that, just take my situation. I got fined $3 million, 30 games for helping my teammate. I got almost killed outside a strip club for helping my teammate. And I bounced back. He can bounce back. He’s 22 years old. At the end of the day, he got to wake up and think about the mistakes that he made and deal with it. A lot of people can say, ‘He messed up, he shouldn’t have done that, he hurt his team.’ But at the end of the day, no one knows how he feels sitting there knowing he didn’t tell the truth, knowing what he has to deal with, knowing he has to come here and face you all and these questions. No one knows what he has to go through. So the advice I told him is that we’re going to support him to deal with it the best he can and just deal with it so he can move on. But the good thing I’m proud of him about, even though how it came out, he still made a made a call … and told Bobby what happened. So I appreciate him standing up and being a man. After the way it happened from the beginning, he came out and still told the truth. He’s young, but he still handled it with maturity. Like I said, we all make mistakes. I’m over it. I’m over it.”
Q: How did you find out about it?
A: “He called me.”
Q: Right away?
Q: Do you think he was a bit afraid at the moment?
A: “Yeah. Because any time you make a mistake, you don’t know what the consequences are going to be. Like when I got into that incident, I didn’t know if I was going to go to jail. I didn’t know if I was going to lose my job. So I was scared, too. And sitting there. Nobody’s calling you, nobody’s really telling you what they’re talking about, what’s going on. You’re hearing everything in the media. Of course you’re going to be scared. This is his job. This is how he takes care of his family. This is how he takes care of himself. Sitting at home thinking all this is at stake, you might lose all of this, of course you’re scared. Anybody would be. But at the same time, we’ve got to be here to support him because he’s going to deal with a lot of stuff from the media, from the NBA, from … coaches, everybody. And I think as a teammate, I’ve got to be there to support him, to tell him there’s still people that love him, that’s not making him feel guilty about what he’s done. And I’m going to continue to be that way with him.”
Q: You were bouncing around, couldn’t get a chance, and now you’re a frontline NBA player. How does that make you feel?
A: “It’s a blessing. Everybody knows what I’ve been through, from the CBA to overseas to here. To have this opportunity, I’m ready to take advantage of it. I’ve never been at the point where I’m the guy on the team. This is a blessing. I’m going to approach it with confidence and just do the best I can.”