Monta Ellis finally addressed his controversial mo-ped accident Monday by releasing a statement through his agent, Jeff Fried. It is the first public comment from Ellis regarding the accident that left him in need of surgery on his left ankle and sidelined for the first two months of the season.
The 22-year-old Ellis, who crashed his mo-ped in late August, initially told Golden State Warriors vice president Chris Mullin that he injured himself playing pickup basketball. Nearly a month later, Ellis, who had signed a six-year, $66 million contract extension weeks before the accident, revealed the true cause of his injury.
Riding mo-peds violates the league's uniform player contract, and the Warriors responded to Ellis' revelation by suspending him for 30 games without pay. The suspension will cost Ellis $3 million. The National Basketball Players Association and Fried are preparing to file an appeal next week.
"While management and I do not agree on their actions," Ellis said in the statement, which was addressed to "My Community, Friends and Fans," "I want to be clear that my injury is based on my mistake in judgment. And I always accept responsibility for my actions."
Mullin and Warriors coach Don Nelson disagreed with the harshness of the penalty, which was levied by team owner Chris Cohan and team president Robert Rowell.
Ellis, who sustained a torn ligament and high-ankle sprain in the accident, is currently rehabbing at the Warriors' practice facility in Oakland. Fried said he is ahead of schedule and that he is expected to return to the court in mid-December. The Warriors' six preseason games count toward Ellis' 30-game suspension, so if the penalty is upheld, he will be eligible to play on Dec. 15 in a home game against Orlando.
"I am working hard to get back on the court and help my teammates and coaches win many games and recreate the playoff atmosphere of 2007," Ellis, who averaged 20.2 points last season, said in the statement. "We were as excited on the court as the fans in the stands."
At Sunday's open practice, Ellis received a standing ovation from the 5,000 fans at Oracle Arena. The crowd's response moved Ellis.
"The Bay area has become home to me and I love everything about this community," Ellis said. "I see the kids wearing Number 8 in the arena and around the Bay area and it always brings a big smile to my face and a sense of pride and responsibility."
Chris Broussard is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.