With a couple of
weeks left in what would be the Warriors' 12th straight season without making
the playoffs, a frustrated Jason Richardson requested a meeting with team
president Robert Rowell--not to criticize his teammates or management, but to
urge the organization to write a letter of apology to fans. He even offered to
split the cost to run it in local papers.
"I had to
come up with something," says Richardson of the letter, which was signed by
all the players and ran as a full-page ad last April 17. "[The fans have]
been going through this with me and the team the past five years. In my heart I
felt I had to let them know that this organization is serious about winning
games." Then on media day the 6'6" shooting guard, who had surgery on
his left knee in August, said that he would bring a pillow and sleep at the
practice facility if necessary to be ready for Golden State's opener.
Fortunately his rehab has gone well; even if he sleeps in his own bed, he's
likely to be in the lineup on Nov. 1.
That sort of
commitment is nothing new for Richardson, 25, who is bidding to become the
first player to score at least 14 points per game as a rookie, then increase
his average each of the next five years. "I go into every off-season and
work on something I wasn't good at," he says, "or improve on something
I could get better at." This off-season he focused on his free throw
shooting. "I corrected and changed my shot, and I like it now," he
says. "I'm just waiting for people to point to something else I can't do
because I'm going to prove them wrong again."
Starting Lineup with 2005--06 statistics
(T12 in West)
Points scored: 98.5 (11th in NBA)
Points allowed: 99.8 (22nd)
Coach: Don Nelson
(first season with Warriors)