Back in 2009, the Golden State Warriors made a decision that would change the history of the franchise. They drafted a young Stephen Curry out of Davidson, a decision that wasn't well-received initially. At the time, the Dubs had a very good guard in Monta Ellis, who was expected to lead the team to compete for big things.
The problem was that Ellis and Curry were very similar and that started creating problems in the team. For instance, Ellis didn't see himself playing with Curry at the same time. During an old interview in 2009, Ellis revealed he has his doubts about making things work with him and Curry, claiming he wanted to win and that wasn't the way to do so.
-Q: Do you expect to be playing the 1 or the 2?
-ELLIS: I just want to play basketball. It doesn’t matter. You could put me at the 5, I just want to play basketball. It doesn’t matter what position I play.
-Q: Were you OK with them drafting Stephen Curry? He’s pretty similar to you…
-ELLIS: I mean, I don’t have a problem. Whatever decision they make upstairs, that’s their decision. They’re doing it for a reason.
I’m going to wish Curry the best in training camp, get better as his career goes on. We’re not worrying about it. We’re teammates. We’re not out here fighting for a position, because that’s not the case.
-Q: Can you see yourself playing with Curry in the backcourt?
-ELLIS: I can’t answer that. Us together? No.
-Q: Why not?
-ELLIS: Can’t. We just can’t.
-Q: Too small? Too similar?
-ELLIS: Just can’t.
-Q: The Warriors say you can.
-ELLIS: They say we can? Yeah. If they say it. But we can’t.
-Q: You wouldn’t want to give it a shot?
-ELLIS: I just want to win. That’s… not going to win that way.
-Q: Why not?
-ELLIS: It’s different when you’re trying to compare me and Stephen, when you’re trying to go back to when me and BD were playing, it’s a different situation.
You’ve got a nine-year veteran who’s been in the game, who understands the game, knows how to play the game, and he’s a big body…
You can’t put two small guys out there and try to play the 1 and the 2 when you’ve got big 2 guards in the league. You just can’t do it.
OK, yes, we’re going to move up and down fast, but eventually the game is going to slow down.
You can’t do it.
Three years later, the Warriors traded Ellis to the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for Andrew Bogut. The decision didn't please anybody at the Oracle Arena at the beginning, but even Monta admitted the team's front office did the right thing.
“I think everything happens for a reason. I think if I was there, we probably wouldn’t have won a championship. That’s just how I am. Like I said, everything happens for a reason. Everybody said that when I made the comment about me and Steph wasn’t going to make it because we’re too small — I didn’t tell that story. When they moved one of us, look what happened. So they moved me, and they win the championship. They have a bigger lineup with Klay [Thompson] at the 2, and then they’ve got Harrison Barnes to back him up. What I said, it was true. If me and him would still be there, I think it would've been hard for us to win there with us both being small in the backcourt," he said on SiriusXM NBA radio back in 2016.
Golden State had to make a choice and it's fair to say they made the right one. Curry has become the greatest shooter of all time, one of the best players to ever do it, leading this team to win three NBA champions in five straight Finals. Ellis said they couldn't win that way and time proved he was right with the exception that he was the one who got sacrificed.