SAN FRANCISCO — Jordan Poole had done his best not to think much about returning to Chase Center to face his former team. It wasn’t until a few days ago that he even spent much time fielding questions about it.
Once it was over, Poole wound up spending quite a bit of time talking about it following Golden State’s 129-118 win over the Washington Wizards on Friday night.
“Emotions were pretty normal, pretty stable,” said Poole, who scored 25 points, three assists and two steals in nearly 27 minutes on the court. “Excited to be back. Felt pretty familiar so it was good.”
It was a bittersweet night for Golden State’s 2019 first-round draft pick, who was dealt to the Wizards in the offseason in exchange for Chris Paul.
On one hand, Washington lost for the ninth time in 11 games and fell to 5-23. On the other, Jordan was celebrated by the Chase Center crowd, who serenaded him with cheers during pregame introductions before a tribute video played on the giant scoreboard.
“It was dope,” Poole said. “To kind of look back on the four years, everything we accomplished, it was really cool, really special. Thankful for Dub Nation. Not many people can say they got a ring here. It’s pretty cool, pretty special. Definitely something I’ll remember.”
Klay Thomspon was among those who stood and watched the video and said it gave him chills.
“It shows you just how fast time really moves when you’re playing pro ball,” Thompson said. “It was great to see the fan reception for Jordan, he deserved it. It was like walking down memory lane.’
In the days leading up to Friday’s game, there had been a lot of chatter in the Bay Area among fans and the media about Poole, his tenure with Golden State and the Warriors’ decision to get rid of him.
The move to trade Poole certainly wasn’t unexpected, especially after Poole was punched in the face by Draymond Green in practice last season.
That made it clear that one of the two had to go, and the Warriors chose to stick with Green while Poole was sent to Washington.
Ever since then, Poole has remained fairly quiet about that incident and his time with the Dubs. He couldn’t avoid it after the game when he was surrounded by a throng of reporters as he stood in the Wizards’ locker room.
“I really embraced myself with Dub Nation, submerged myself with them throughout my tenure here,” Poole said. “It was pretty special just to see that I got the love back.”
Poole got an early feel for how the night was going to be during shootaround. A circle of young fans from Israel stood on the sidelines watching, and Poole wound up passing the ball back and forth with the group.
“It’s always cool when you go back to your former team and play and just see the emotions,” Washington’s Kyle Kuzma said. “It’s always fun being a teammate to watch that and see what (he was) a part of.”
Poole’s return had been so highly anticipated in these parts that someone posted on social media that the Warriors were handing out ‘Welcome back Jordan Poole’ shirts to fans going to the game. A Warriors spokesman later said the picture was a hoax.
Still, the point was clear. Golden State fans loved Poole when he played for them and still have a spot in their hearts for him now.
“It was really cool what they did, how they did it,” Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “I think he enjoyed it. You could tell it meant a lot to him. He’s handled it gracefully. That tells me a lot about his mental fortitude.”
Poole came out and made a quick impression when he scored the game’s first points on an 18-foot jumper. He also shot an airball in the second quarter but closed the first half with a 3-pointer that trimmed the Warriors lead to 63-61.
Poole finished shooting 7 of 21 and was 3 of 12 on 3-pointers, not a great statistical night but good enough as he was Washington’s leading scorer.
After the game, Poole walked toward 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 chop it up. That relationship means a lot to me just because he helped me the entire time here. Shout out to Loon.”
Poole also talked to Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who had talked highly of Poole’s time with Golden State two days earlier.
“Classy, professional,” Poole said of Kerr. “It was really good to see everybody. Great group.”