MINNEAPOLIS — Golden State Warriors forward Jordan Bell apologized Friday for actions that led to him being suspended for “conduct detrimental to the team” and forced him to sit out Wednesday’s win over the Memphis Grizzlies. Bell declined comment to a handful of reporters after Friday’s shootaround, but did answer a few questions in an interview with NBC Sports Bay Area.
“I made an error of judgment,” Bell told NBC Sports Bay Area. “And I thought I was doing something funny, and it wasn’t. But I apologized to the individuals involved, and I hope to continue to move forward from this mistake.”
As the second-year player prepares to return to the active roster — if not the rotation, where he hasn’t been a regular member since early this season — he still has the support of teammate Shaun Livingston.
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“I haven’t talked to him in detail but I’ve shared some words with him and again it’s just making sure that he still is supported on this team,” Livingston said Friday. “You go through something you might feel isolated, but it’s also up to him to build trust and make sure that he gets back into a place to where he was before. You don’t want to be on a team where you’re not trusted. You want to be on a team where you can build — where people trust you.”
Bell was suspended for making unauthorized charges to assistant coach Mike Brown’s hotel room in Memphis prior to the team’s game against the Grizzlies, as The Athletic originally reported late Wednesday, and league sources confirmed to ESPN. This was not the first time Bell had been cited for making unauthorized charges to rooms other than his own, according to a league source, something The Athletic noted as a “concern” within the organization in its original report.
In a Twitter thread that was eventually retweeted by Bell, Twitter user @MGrads said the process of putting small items on a younger teammates’ room was a “rite of passage,” and that teammates charged several “little things” on his room last season, so Bell was just getting teammates and coaches back.
While Bell is well-liked by many teammates, the overwhelming feeling from within the organization since the incident has been one of disappointment. Aside from the incident with Brown’s room charge, Bell has struggled to show the kind of consistent work ethic that would earn him both more minutes on the floor and the benefit of the doubt off of it.
“For him it’s just keeping his head down and really getting back on the grind and working his way back into a place to where the coaching staff, the organization trusts him on the court,” Livingston said. “And that doesn’t have anything to do with the incident, it’s more just on the court, having the confidence to throw him in there in a big game. That comes down to trust.”
Bell told NBC Sports Bay Area that he appreciated the support.
“It was dope to know they’re on your side,” Bell said of his teammates. “Like I said, everybody kind of crucifies you when they hear about a story that has a big gap or a story that leaves a big gap. It just leaves people’s minds to wonder, so it was dope your teammates have your back and joke about it and, at the same time knowing at the end, if it comes down to it, they’re going to defend you and have your back.”
Bell will be a restricted free agent this summer, and moving forward in the wake of the suspension, he’ll have to build back trust internally off the floor and prove he can contribute consistently when given the chance on it. After showing flashes of promise during his rookie season, Bell has regressed to a point where he hasn’t been a regular part of Steve Kerr’s rotation in months.
Before the suspension, the most memorable moment of Bell’s season came at the end of a blowout win on Jan. 21 against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center when cameras caught Kerr and Bell exchanging some heated words near the end of the game. Kerr brushed the exchange aside after it was over, but Bell hasn’t had enough highlights on the court to take the focus off his missteps off of it.
“It’s obviously tough not knowing night to night when you’re going to play or if you’re going to play or how much you’re going to play so that challenge is tough,” teammate Stephen Curry said. “In a different kind of situation I went through in my rookie year, early in the year, where I didn’t really know kind of what to expect on a night to night basis. But you just put the work in, come with the right intentions, each and every day.”
Just two years into his NBA career, Bell finds himself at a professional crossroads. The potential is there, the support from within still remains but he is like the little brother the family is still hoping can find his way and put it all together.
“He has to do that on his own,” Livingston said. “We can try to lead him to the water but it’s up to him to take that first step, or take the necessary steps. Maybe not just the first step, you need to continue to keep taking the second, third, fourth steps. I think the potential’s there. … We all just want to see him be successful. Period.”