Many (like yours truly) probably figured it was a cute way to designate areas where fans are partial to certain individual players. That may be true in a sense, but there’s a lot more to it.
Every Warriors home game, 25 tickets are given to charitable organizations throughout the Bay Area in each of the players’ sections, so kids who otherwise wouldn’t have the means can watch an NBA game in person. The Warriors’ 119-101 win over the Utah Jazz on Thursday night was watched by about 18,000 fans, including “Monta’s Mob.”
This Mob came from Arroyo Viejo Recreation Center in East Oakland, an organization that’s been helping people of all ages since 1952 through everything from literacy programs to providing fields and spaces to play sports. The Warriors have been working with this organization for years. It almost seems trite to hear of a rich organization’s charitable efforts … until you see the beneficiaries in person, relishing a moment that’ll stick with them forever.
Monta Ellis’ 33-point performance against the Jazz seemed tailor-made to his Mob. However, the highlight came after the game.
I followed Ellis out of the locker room. We walked past Stephen Curry, who was playing with Ellis’ young son (add that scene to how many assists the two had to each other against the Jazz — especially Curry’s half-court lob to Ellis — and any supposed rift between the two players seems compeletely overblown). Ellis kept walking, down a long corridor and back out to the floor where he dominated the action about a half hour earlier. His mission: to meet with the fans in his section who enjoyed the game. Seeing a win in person is one thing. Hanging out with an NBA star after that win?
I’d say that’s worth the price of admission … except the tickets were free and, for the Mob, the experience was priceless.
“This has been the the talk of the week. People have been very excited to come out. Especially the meet and greet. It’s one thing to see them on TV, but actually to come down and shake their hand,” according to Maribel Corral, Arroyo Viejo Recreation Supervisor.
“And be acknowledged for all their hard work — these kids worked hard to keep their grades up, and to do well at home as well as in school. We had a lot of parents come out with us tonight so it’s good to celebrate our kids at a Warriors game.”
Ellis isn’t much interested in talking about himself with reporters, but he was truly in his element around the kids (and parents) screaming his name. Ellis is a unique character compared to most 20+ ppg scorers in the NBA. He rarely talks trash or celebrates, and after games he seems like he’d rather talk about anything other than himself. However, not even the most cynical reporter (or blogger) could possibly believe Ellis was faking the enthusiasm he showed toward the group gathered near the Warriors bench, eagerly awaiting the goody-bags he passed out to everyone.
The tickets purchased for charitable organizations come out of the players’ pockets, with the money deducted out of their paychecks as the year goes on. A drop in the bucket compared to the wages they earn? Sure. However, there’s an important distinction between the Warriors handing out free tickets and attaching a players name, as opposed to players putting their money (and their time) into projects like these.
Ellis has been a charitable person almost as long as he’s been a prolific NBA scorer, with his ME8 Foundation focused on helping out at-risk kids and those with breast cancer. Sounds like an odd combination of groups to help — except Monta was one of those kids once, and his “auntie” survived breast cancer three years ago. He talks about his background and his auntie in the interview below.
Yeah, I also asked him about what he thinks about the Warriors at the end of our short chat. Then again, the Warriors’ won/loss record seemed fairly inconsequential after seeing (and hearing) his Mob’s reaction after the game when he stepped back out on the floor.[audio:http://www.bayareasportsguy.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Monta-Ellis-Interview-2.mp3|titles=Monta Ellis Interview]