HAVING ADDRESSED about three dozen kids at a team-sponsored camp, the newest Warrior, now surrounded by media in the humid gymnasium at Alameda High School, is directed to a seat and attempts to explain his journey to the Bay Area.
It is quickly evident that his is a tale without poetry or romance.
Becoming a member of the Warriors is not the fulfillment of a dream Corey Maggette had one night. Nor is it the realization of a fantasy. It is not even the aftereffect of an inspired vision.
It was a practical decision, sensible as a retirement plan. Maggette headed northbound from Los Angeles, taking the business route to Oakland.
It led him from one unexceptional NBA team, the Clippers, to another, the Warriors.
From one team that experienced a degree of success but didn't build upon it, to another that improved itself but couldn't sustain it.
And now neither has a clue. Odds are against the Clippers or Warriors, as currently constituted, reaching the playoffs, much less making an impact in the NBA's second season.
"It's kind of funny how all this stuff played out,'' Maggette says. "But it's going to be interesting to see what happens.''
Maggette did, however, have a dream. It was pure fantasy, yes, but there was a moment when it seemed to be within reach. It went like this: Baron Davis leaves the Warriors and joins the Clippers. Elton Brand, adjusts his contract and returns to the Clippers. And Maggette, willing to take less money than he could get on the open market, joins them.
"We all thought we were going to be on the same team," Maggette said. "We were trying to do what Boston did."
That is, a makeover dramatic enough to lift the Clips from postseason observers to postseason power players. Brand, Davis and Maggette would become the Western Conference version of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.
"I've known E.B. since I was in ninth grade. I've known Baron since I was in eighth grade," Maggette said. "We almost had the opportunity to stay together."
Maggette's fantasy fell apart when Brand went east, to Philadelphia, leaving the Clippers without an All-Star power forward. This told Maggette that "this new Celtics thing that we were going to do is not going to happen."
The dream lasted, he figures, about 12 hours. Then Maggette woke up. And started handling his business. That is what NBA players generally do. That's what Brand did, what Davis did. Maggette, 28, knows the drill.
He pondered signing with San Antonio, a perennial contender, with franchise post man Tim Duncan. Maggette considered Orlando, a solid young squad with franchise center Dwight Howard. In either case, Maggette was looking at the mid-level exception and a contract that might top out around $35 million, over five years.
The trip to Oakland yielded more. Maggette's five-year contract with the Warriors is worth $50 mil.
Along with it comes much uncertainty.
There is a void in the wake of Davis, who was the team's undisputed leader and the primary source of its collective self-esteem.
Coach Don Nelson, 68, will be entering the final year of his contract and likely will retire after the season. Vice president Chris Mullin is in the final year of his deal, and there is no assurance he'll be back.
And Monta Ellis, a dazzling guard, is being asked to transform himself from freestyle baller to scorer/ballhandler/creator.
"The big plan for (Mullin) is always trying to win," Maggette says. "I think he's really trying to find some additions to help this team. They're not done yet. I know they're not done yet. They're still in the process of figuring out what they're doing."
Maggette will make every effort to deliver his end of the deal. He'll set a good example, score lots of points and, if this visit with the kids is any indication, win friends around town.
It's not everything he could hope for. All things considered, though, it shows he has a head for the business of the NBA.
Contact Monte Poole at firstname.lastname@example.org