SAN FRANCISCO — Jordan Poole was trying his best not to think too much about returning to Chase Center to play against his former team. It was only a few days ago that he spent a lot of time answering questions about it.
After Golden State’s 129-118 win over the Washington Wizards on Friday night, Poole spent a good deal of time talking about it after the game.
“My emotions were pretty normal, pretty consistent,” said Poole, who had 25 points, three assists and two steals in about 27 minutes on the court. “I’m excited to be back. It felt pretty familiar so it was nice.”
It was a bittersweet night for Golden State’s 2019 first-round draft pick, who was traded to the Wizards in the offseason for Chris Paul.
Meanwhile, Washington suffered its ninth loss in 11 games, dropping to 5-23. On the one hand, Jordan was celebrated by the Chase Center crowd, who cheered during pregame introductions and played a memorial video on the giant scoreboard.
“It was horrible,” Poole said. “When I look back on four years, everything we accomplished was really amazing and really special. Thank you Dub Nation. Not many people can say they got a ring here. That’s pretty cool. And it’s pretty special. You’ll definitely remember something.”
Clay Thomspon was among those who stood and watched the video and said he felt chills.
“When you play professional baseball, you see how fast time really goes,” Thompson said. “It was great to see Jordan welcomed by the fans and he deserved it. It was like he was taking a walk down memory lane.”
In the days leading up to Friday’s game, there was a lot of talk among fans and media in the Bay Area about Poole, his tenure in Golden State and the Warriors’ decision to waive him.
The move to trade Poole was certainly not unexpected, especially after he was punched in the face by Draymond Green during practice last season.
This made it clear that one of the two would have to leave, and the Warriors opted to keep Green while Poole was sent to Washington.
Since then, Poole has remained fairly quiet about the incident and his time with the Dubs. When he stood in the Wizards’ locker room after the game, surrounded by a swarm of reporters, he couldn’t help it.
“I wholeheartedly embraced Dub Nation and immersed myself in them throughout my time here,” Poole said. “Just seeing the love come back was so special.”
Poole got an early sense of what the night would be like during shootaround. Poole eventually passed the ball back and forth with the group as a circle of young fans from Israel stood on the sideline and watched.
“It’s always cool to go back and play with your old team and see that emotion,” Washington’s Kyle Kuzma said. “It’s always fun to watch it as a teammate and see what (he) was a part of.”
Poole’s return was so anticipated in this part of the world that some people posted on social media that the Warriors were handing out “Welcome Back Jordan Poole” shirts to fans going to the game. A Warriors spokesperson later said the photo was a hoax.
Still, the point was clear. Golden State fans loved Poole when he played for the team and still hold a spot in their hearts for him.
“It was really cool what they did and how they did it,” Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “I think he was having fun. You can tell it meant a lot to him. He handled it with care. It says a lot about his mental strength. .”
Poole came out and made an immediate impression when he scored the first score of the game with an 18-foot jumper. He also hit an airball in the second quarter, but ended the first half with a 3-pointer that cut the Warriors’ lead to 63-61.
Poole made 7 of 21 shots and 3 of 12 from 3-point range, not a great night statistically, but good enough to be Washington’s leading scorer.
After the game, Poole walked towards former teammate Kevon Looney. The two talked for a bit before exchanging jerseys.
“He’s always had my back. I love the guy,” Poole said. “We talk all the time and we chop it up. That relationship means so much to me just because he’s helped me the whole time he’s been here. Shout out to Rune.”
Poole also spoke with Warriors coach Steve Kerr two days ago, who spoke highly of Poole’s time in Golden State.
Poole said Kerr was “classy and professional.” “It was really nice to meet everyone. It’s a great group.”