Photo by Courtesy Wikicommons/Chrishmt0423
Last year we saw a rare feat in the NBA playoffs, when the eighth-seed Philadelphia 76ers defeated the No. 1 seed Chicago Bulls after Derrick Rose tore his anterior cruciate ligament. Just five teams in the NBA playoffs eighth seed have ever defeated a one seed in the opening round.
History is not on the side of the Milwaukee Bucks and former Lanier High School standout Monta Ellis. The Bucks face the Miami Heat, top seed in the Eastern Conference and favorites to win their second straight NBA title.
At Lanier, Ellis was named the Parade Magazine High School player of the year during his senior season in 2005. He was also named Mississippi's "Mr. Basketball."
Ellis was a four-year starter at Lanier, and led the Bulldogs to 4A state titles in 2002 and 2005. He helped the Bulldogs finish as runner-ups in 2003 and 2004. He finished his high school career with 4,167 points.
Ellis started his professional career playing for the Golden State Warriors, who drafted him in the second round with the 40th pick in 2005. While playing for the Warriors, Ellis was part of the eighth-seeded Golden State team that upset the one-seeded Dallas Mavericks.
The Warriors were the first eight seed to beat a one seed after the NBA made the first round best-of-seven matchups instead of best-of-five. Golden State defeated Dallas 4-2 before falling to the Utah Jazz 4-1 in the NBA Western Conference Semi-finals.
Ellis is averaging 19.2 points, six assists and four rebounds this season for Milwaukee. He had a season high of 39 points against the Orlando Magic in a 115-109 win in March and also added six rebounds, five assists and two blocks.
The Golden State Warriors traded Ellis to Milwaukee in March 2012.
In the summer of 2010, Ellis started the "ME8 Foundation" to help families and children in Jackson and the Bay Area of California (when he was with Golden State). Ellis and his wife Jaunika have two children: a son, Monta Jr., and a daughter, Myla.
Two other players with Mississippi ties are also on NBA Playoff rosters. Both players are former Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Erick Dampier is deep on the Atlanta Hawks bench at age 36 and Jarvis Varnado sees limited action for the Miami Heat.