SAN FRANCISCO — Jordan Poole did his best not to think too much about returning to Chase Center to face his former team. It was only a few days ago that he spent a lot of time answering questions about this topic.
Once it was over, Paul ended up spending a lot of time talking about it after Golden State's 129-118 win over the Washington Wizards on Friday night.
“The feelings were very normal and stable,” said Paul, who had 25 points, three assists and two steals in about 27 minutes on the court. “Excited to be back. It felt very familiar so it was good.
It was a bittersweet night for Golden State's 2019 first-round pick, who was dealt to the Wizards in the offseason in exchange for Chris Paul.
On the other hand, Washington lost for the ninth time in 11 games and fell to 5-23. Chase Center fans, on the other hand, celebrated Jordan, singing cheers for him during pregame introductions before playing a tribute video on the giant scoreboard.
“It was dope,” Paul said. “Looking back at the four years, everything we accomplished, it was really amazing, really special. Thankful for the nation. Not many people can say they got a ring here. It's pretty cool, really special. Definitely something I'll remember.”
Klay Thompson was among those who stood and watched the video and said it gave him goosebumps.
“It shows you how fast time moves when you play professional ball,” Thompson said. “It was great to see the public reception for Jordan, he deserves it. It was like a walk down memory lane.
In the days leading up to Friday's game, there was a lot of chatter in the Bay Area among fans and the media about Paul, his tenure with Golden State and the Warriors' decision to trade him.
The move to trade Paul certainly wasn't unexpected, especially after Paul was punched in the face by Draymond Green during practice last season.
That made it clear that one of them had to go, and the Warriors elected to stick with Green while Ball was sent to Washington.
Since then, Paul 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 swarm of reporters while standing in the Wizards' locker room.
“I really embraced myself with Dub Nation and immersed myself with them the whole time I was here,” Paul said. “It was so special to see that I got love back.”
Paul got an early sense of what the night would be like during the shooting. A circle of young fans from Israel stood on the sidelines, and Paul ended up passing the ball back and forth with the group.
“It's always nice to go back to your old team and play and just see the emotions,” Washington's Kyle Kuzma said. “It's always fun to be a teammate to watch that and see what (he) was a part of.”
Paul's return was so highly anticipated in these parts that one person posted on social media that the Warriors were handing out “Welcome Back Jordan Paul” T-shirts to fans going to the game. A Warriors spokesman later said the photo was a hoax.
However, the point was clear. Golden State fans loved Paul when he played for them and still have a place in their hearts today.
“What they did and how they did it was really impressive,” Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “I think he enjoyed it. You could tell it meant a lot to him. He handled it gracefully. That tells me a lot about his mental fortitude.”
Paul came out and quickly made an impression when he scored the first points of the game on an 18-foot jumper. He also shot a volley in the second quarter, but finished the first half with a three-pointer that reduced the Warriors' lead to 63-61.
Paul finished 7 of 21 shooting and was 3 of 12 on 3-pointers, not a great statistical night but good enough since he was Washington's leading scorer.
After the game, Paul walked up to former teammate Kevon Looney. The two talked for a while before exchanging shirts.
“He always had my back. I love the guy,” Paul said. “We talk all the time and break it up. This relationship means a lot to me just because he helped me the whole time here. Shout out to Lone.
Paul also spoke to Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who spoke highly of Paul's time with Golden State two days ago.
“Personal and professional,” Paul said of Kerr. “It was really good to see everyone. Great group.”
“Alcohol enthusiast. Twitter ninja. Tv lover. Falls down a lot. Hipster-friendly coffee geek.”