OAKLAND, Calif. — For five-and-a-half seasons, he was one of them.
So Donyell Marshall feels Golden State's pain.
"I know how frustrating it can get," he said of the 16-49 Warriors, losers of eight straight and bound to spend yet another postseason in the comfort of their own homes.
For making an escape akin to sneaking out of Alcatraz, Marshall has Jazz star Karl Malone to thank. He lobbied heavily for Utah to acquire Marshall, who just happens to employ the same agent (Dwight Manley) as the Mailman. Marshall, however, said Wednesday that he is indebted to Malone for more than that.
"From Day One, he's been pushing me and helping me. He tells me the ins and outs, and the different rules to follow on and off the court," Marshall said. "He's been that big brother, and that leader, that I haven't had."
Malone makes no bones over his pleasure in playing with Marshall, who cracked the Jazz's starting lineup 30 games ago.
"I knew Donyell could play," he said. "He averaged a double-double (14.2 points, 10 rebounds) last year. I don't care if it's church league — anytime you do that, you're doing something right."
Marshall went into Wednesday's game averaging 16.9 points and 8.9 boards as a Utah starter, but he'd struggled lately, having been held to 7 or fewer points in three of Utah's four previous games. Against his former club, though he bounced back with a 15-point, 14-rebound effort that pleased Jazz coach Jerry Sloan.
"I hope he's just as inspired to play against somebody else as he is his old team," Sloan said, "because that's what he gets paid for.
"But I was glad, more than anything else, to see him come back after he struggled three or four games," he added. "I thought he had a much-better game; he went after the basketball on the boards and got himself going right off the bat."
Marshall was pleased, not only that he's broken free from Golden State, but also that he's perhaps begun to break out of his self-admitted slump.
"I still think I can be a little more aggressive, and be smarter," he said, "but it's a start."