Monta Ellis is a pretty good basketball player. We know that now after having seen him fit seamlessly into Rick Carlisle’s system last season, playing All-Star-caliber basketball for most of the season and saving his best for the playoffs, when he dominated the San Antonio Spurs in a season-saving Game 6 win. Ellis was an under-the-radar signing last season, but he’s anything but an under-the-radar player today. If you didn’t believe in Ellis before last season, you do now.

However, that’s about all we know about him. He’s a pretty reserved guy, especially with the media. After games, he answers a few questions, takes care of business, and heads home. He doesn’t do a bunch of interviews. He doesn’t live his life in the spotlight the way many other athletes do — not that there’s anything wrong with that lifestyle, either. Ellis just prefers to do things his own way: watch old movies, hang around the house, play one-on-one with his son, Monta Jr. The younger Monta is aptly named, as well: He’s a total clone of his father.

“It’s fun because you see that spitting image of you,” Ellis said at Mavs media day. “And it’s like you all over again.”

During games, Monta Jr. can often be found competing in the in-arena dance competitions. He even won one last season, no one in the crowd knowing who he was until after the fact when Monta Sr. proudly addressed the swirling rumors with media members. It’s not uncommon for Ellis the player to talk about Ellis the son after games, either — his son can usually be found somewhere near his locker, patiently waiting for dad to finish his media duties so they can go home.

The two truly are a package deal. Even at Fan Jam, as Monta Sr. was signing hundreds and hundreds of autographs for Mavs fans and season ticket holders, his son was in the seat right next to him, clutching a sharpie just like his dad. If Monta Jr. is going to learn from anyone, it might as well be his dad. After all, he’s a pretty successful basketball player.

And learning he is, according to Ellis, who said his son beat him at basketball just the other day. Dad swears he wasn’t playing on his knees or holding anything back. “I don’t have to handicap him,” he said. “He’s just a competitor.” The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, eh?

Clearly, Ellis’s son and family are important to him. It’s that family atmosphere that the shooting guard said stood out most to him when he signed with the Mavericks last summer. He felt at home the minute he stepped into the locker room. “When I first walked through the locker room, I felt at home,” Ellis said. “Then, after meeting the guys, meeting certain people in the organization, they really even welcomed me with more warm arms. I said to myself, ‘I would like to retire as a Dallas Maverick.'”

There was a stark difference between how Ellis carried himself at this year’s media day and last year’s. In 2013, he was just coming off a tumultuous, up-and-down season with the Milwaukee Bucks, though the team did qualify for the Eastern Conference playoffs. He was battling media perception and desperate to perform at an even higher level both individually and with his team. What a difference one year makes.

It would certainly be a stretch to compare too closely Ellis with his running mate Dirk Nowitzki, but the pair are both perfectly happy with their private lives, especially when it comes to family life. While it’s tough to know either star too well, if their on-court chemistry is any indication, it’s safe to say the duo gets along just fine. That’s just one reason why Ellis said he feels comfortable in Dallas, more so than in other stops throughout his career. It’s about family with the Mavs, feeling like he belongs. You’ve heard a lot of that throughout the summer with this team. Tyson Chandler spoke of loyalty at the team’s introductory press conference last week. Dirk Nowitzki, upon re-signing with the Mavs, spoke about the relationship he’s had with Mark Cuban, Donnie Nelson, and Rick Carlisle throughout the time they’ve all been here. Cuban and Carlisle have each repeated the word “chemistry” about a hundred times in the last couple weeks, as well. That matters here, and Ellis has taken notice. So what does he think about the new additions to his family, like Chandler and Chandler Parsons?

“Right away, we felt like we had upgraded our team to title contention and contenders,” he said. “So now we have to think like it. Now we have to do everything that’s necessary to get to that level. Everybody bought in from day one. Everybody’s been working hard. That’s a great sign for us. That’s a great sign for our basketball team, our organization, and the character of guys we have on this team.”

Whether it’s the one with his son or the ones with his teammates, Ellis’ bonds are growing stronger than ever. He’s at home here, and the results were all too obvious last season. Based on the way this summer has unfolded, it’s safe to say it’ll stay that way.

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