Throwback Big 3s: Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson, and Monta Ellis

Published December 3, 2022, 10:00 AMJon Carlos Rodriguez

Before the Steph Curry era, Golden State was entertained by the “We Believe” Warriors squad led by Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson, and Monta Ellis.

Throwback Big 3s is an NBA.com Philippines series that revisits entertaining NBA star trios of old who put their unique stamp on the game.

First, a confession. I am a Golden State Warriors bandwagon fan. Not that this makes it any better, but the bandwagoning happened way before the Splash era - a decade before the recent championship run. I made the jump in early 2005 when fringe superstar (but an all-time hero to me) Baron Davis was shipped to The Bay.

Davis had been named an All-Star twice as a member of the then Charlotte/New Orleans Hornets, but he was not exactly top of mind nor mentioned in the same breath as the Allen Iversons, Tracy McGradys, and the Steve Francises of the league. That’s a collective mistake that I have no plans of forgiving nor forgetting anytime soon.

If you’re not privy to the awesomeness of Baron Davis, stop reading this article and head over to YouTube, then type the words “Baron Davis schools Tracy McGrady.” Enjoy.

Now that you, dear reader, are no doubt a Baron Davis convert, the ‘05 Warriors bandwagon situation probably makes more sense. Davis is the type of player—particularly if you’re an NBA 2K guy—you’d follow to the ends of the earth. He’s a shoot-first–no, a dazzle-first point guard who can knock down the big shots fearlessly and throw amazing dimes effortlessly. His handles are tight, straight from one of those classic AND1 mixtapes; his upper body is built like a power forward. He led the league in steals twice in 2004 and 2007. Davis was a unicorn trapped in a 6’3” frame and 215-pound body.

Davis was the central figure in the Warriors’ magical run in 2007 but, of course, he wasn’t alone. The Warriors ran with their own version of a Big 3: Davis, Monta Ellis, and Stephen Jackson. What’s magical about the Warriors then was that this Big 3 was often interchangeable, its moving parts always dependable. Sometimes it was Jason Richardson, sometimes it was Matt Barnes. But always, it was Baron Davis.

You must be thinking, “Wait a minute, this is supposed to be a Big 3 article and not a Baron Davis tribute. What’s going on here?” So here are a few things to know about Stephen Jackson. While Davis always provided the boom, SJax was the soul. As the only member of the team with a ring, Jackson provided the leadership, grit, and teeth to what was essentially a Warriors team that had nothing but bad intentions towards teams more deep and talented than they were (see: Dallas Mavericks).


Jackson held the role of old-fashioned enforcer for the Warriors, the type of guy who told his team what to do and then showed them how to do it too. In the epic first-round series versus the top-seed Mavericks, Jackson flexed his team captain qualities and steadied the ship of the eighth-seeded Warriors. In Game 6, Jackson scored 33 points to send season MVP Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs to an early summer break. He set the Warriors’ record for most playoff 3s in that game with seven–a record which, of course, was trampled on multiple times later on by Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. But back then, Captain Jack—with the Malice at the Palace incident behind him—was the Splash Enforcer. 

Then there was Monta Ellis, who, in 2007, was the sophomore standout who could create shots for himself at any point in the game. He mixed his raw athleticism with youth, which was exactly what the tandem of Davis and Jackson needed. On the open floor is where Ellis played best. Once he got it moving, Ellis calmly grooved toward the basket, light on his feet, finishing with all the smoothness you could ask for from a bony 6’3” guard.

Davis, Jackson, and Ellis combined a unique set of skills and personalities that had no reason to mesh well together but did. A flashy point guard, a brash leader, and a creative 2-guard doing different spectacular things individually. Together, these three played a brand of basketball that can only be described as irrationally fantastic. You had no choice but to believe it.


Other Throwback Big 3 feature: Steve Nash, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Shawn Marion