BOSTON - MAY 13: Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics drives to the net as Delonte West #13 of the Cleveland Cavaliers defends during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2010 NBA playoffs at TD Garden on May 13, 2010 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User Expressly Acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
The Wild Wild West
Delonte West.... Red Headed Gun Toting Leprechaun....hmmmm.......... Images and tales of crazy stuff immediately come to mind for all of us familiar with this dude from DC. One could write a book about this guy. I spent so much time reading about The Wild West World of Delonte in the past few days I began to lose sight of his basketball skills, or lack thereof, in some people’s mind.
I became intrigued of what makes this guy tick and slightly re-mesmerized by his funny way of speaking and his cartoonish slant on the world around him. I spent too much time trying to choose a great title and pictures for this article that I missed my deadline. Ok ok ok ..my typing is a bit slow as well. By the way has somebody written a book about Delonte yet? I looked but couldn’t find one but one has to be in the works.
Our fearless leader, Jeff Clark, throws out an idea to write an article about a former Celtic player who is/was our “guilty pleasure”, then he quickly departs to Mexico on the last train south to find his own guilty pleasure I guess south-of-the-border style.
As some of your may remember I was a HUGE Delonte West fan (much bigger fan than my amigo Edgar) clear back in the day... 2004. I never felt guilty about it - I reveled in unabashedly loving this guy. He gave me hope for the C’s when I needed it most. The instant I saw this odd looking little tattooed ginger of a guy in a Celtic uniform I was smitten. Smitten in a manly sort of way of course. Don’t go thinking for my real identity might be Gloria “Cradle Robber” James - just don’t go there with me.
I remember feeling the excitement of watching somebody new to or Celtics; a team in desperate of a spark of life - any spark, any life. I thought he might be a whole flame. Once I saw him play a few games I felt a glimmer of hope that we may have drafted the next......ummmm....Rajon Rondo? Let me say right up front, here in the full light of truth for celticsblog vultures, I thought Delonte was better than Rajon early on! For that misjudgment I do feel guilt and embarrassment (my guilt or embarrassment didn’t last long but I did feel it for a second).
I cannot recall what home game it was in his early rookie season (from some reason I want to say it was against the Knicks) that Delonte put a tremendous block from behind on some big center that brought me to my feet while Tommy was screaming into Mike’s ear - Wow!!! Wow!!!! I knew then this “early entry” kid from St Josephs’s had scrap and major hops! I was excited of what his PO-tential could be.
He seemed so focused those first two seasons. He seemed innocent, yet very tough and like someone looking to prove he belonged in the NBA. I liked how he lacked the typical chest-thumping bravdo on the court. He had quirky this moxie about him. He was unique and I loved that about him. Of course, with my green jaded eyes, it didn’t hurt that he was primarily left-handed because I too am left handed. It was always easier to play defense against me by forcing me to go right. I was so in love with Delonte that all the criticisms about his “left handed only” drives to the basket fell on my deaf Delonte-lovin ears. His left-handed bias wasn’t as bad as the haters would have you believe but it was there.
Delonte’s rookie season consisted of only 39 games played as he hurt his hand/finger/thumb twice. Boy oh boy, it did not take long for the chants of “injury prone” to sweep thru Celticsblog like a sour brown west coast breezy Faker smog. Oh how I hated the naysayers on Celticsblog talking smack and telling lies against my Delonte! Too slow!! too left-handed! too fragile, too short to be a SG. Just a bad tweener who couldn’t play. Yes, Bankshot I am still talking about you.... LOL
Season 2 was Delonte’s finest as a Celtic, as most of his stats from that season still hold up today as his best season as an NBA player. He played 71 games, he played solid, he played like a Celtic and I was certain he was not going anywhere - he would be a long term Celtic. His assists to turnover ratio that season were 3 to 1 and I refused to bow down to the Delonte bashers who said he was NOT a Celtic PG and certainly not one for our future.
When you threw in Al Jefferson as the other breathe of life for the Celtics, I was certain these two guys could be our core to build upon. As you can see, my predictive powers of Celtic player longevity and value plus my overall observational skills are simply unrivaled. My “Be a Better GM” DVD will be out shortly.
Like I said above, the big issue with Delonte as a Celtic (and as a Cavalier for that matter) was/is he a Shooting Guard or Point Guard? As you will recall in the 2006-07 season, Doc couldn’t seem to make up his mind (imagine that) as he started out as PG, then SG and finally back to PG as I recall. His stats were always better as a PG than as SG, but when you line him up to classic PG’s then he doesn’t fit. I was so blind to that fact at first because I saw him as a Dennis Johnson type point guard (and I still do) versus a Tiny Archibald type PG. But some people only see PG’s as the quick water bug type and forget some great PG’s were not ultra quick. However, it is obvious to me in hindsight that Delonte West will never be the player I thought he would eventually become.
When Delonte was pulled over in September 2009 by police while riding on a three wheeled motorcycle carrying multiple loaded weapons I was stunned and sad. Why three wheels also raced thru my mind (crazy I know). As a side note, I never understood why he was on three wheeled cycle?..... unless you need extra balance for those weapons and a guitar case, or you have trouble steering with your right hand (bada bing!!). Keep in mind he swerved this motorcycle with a training wheel in FRONT of the police car!
When I heard this news I felt sad for Delonte as I knew he could be falling quickly from the NBA limelight and into a tragedy. The innocence that I saw in him as a rookie Celtic was certainly long gone. The great smile seemed to be hidden from view. He didn’t look like the old Delonte West. Was he going to be another NBA tragedy story slipping off into a lost world many before him had succumbed to in the past? I truly hope not.
At least I now knew that the PG vs SG argument was finally settled - he was clearly a “Shooting Guard” -a fully loaded Shooting Guard (come on you knew I could not let that pass). I also figured that for him to be wrestled to the ground and handcuffed by police with a large knife hidden in his pants that he must not be as injury prone as some people might have first thought....I mean to not stab or shoot yourself in that situation means something doesn’t it? I told you guys in 2004 he wasn’t injury prone and you didn’t believe me....I have to be right somewhere in this story.
The worst day for me in my Delonte “Love-Fest” Celtic years was the June 2007 draft night in which Delonte really did GO WEST...straight outta Boston and in to a Seattle fog. I was enraged, heartbroken and cussing Danny Ainge like LeBron cusses his hired help. I thought why Ray Allen???? What is Danny thinking!!!!!! That old man Ray Allen is basically over the hill - his better days are behind him. I am so spot-on sometimes with these GM type thoughts. It’s quite a curse to carry around such insight and predictive basketballs skills like mine. So, just like that, my beloved Delonte was gone. The Ginger Tattooed Leprechaun had caught the last train for the WEST coast. The Celtic Delonte era was over in Boston. Oh the humanity of it......
I could get into the discussion about how he performed in Cleveland and how Mo Williams took over the PG spot from Delonte. I could try to analyze his mental illness and how Delonte seemed to go down hill fast with this reported chemical imbalance. I blame Lebron - seriously why not? I could also discuss what team, if any, does he fit with now? Is his career in the NBA now on the downhill slope? I have no idea so I will leave that to others. All I know is that I didn’t write this article to talk about Cleveland or what might have been or what may happen. Danny clearly made the right choice in shipping off Delonte and that number 5 pick for Ray Allen. I was wrong. I am here to admit the error of my ways one final time over my blind love for Delonte. However he was fun to watch, fun to hear interviewed in the locker room: “I’m a playa Greg. I just play with whatever you give me. You give me a sock I’ll play with a sock... I just a playa Greg”.....
I hope the best for this kid, and I do think he could have a role on this 2010 -11 Celtic team if he did come back to us.....but just as Bob Dylan once said : “You can come back, but you can never come back all the way”. Knowing that Delonte loves cartoons as an adult is funny, but unfortunately life isn’t a cartoon. His smile, his cartoon-like humor and his basketball skills won’t be the cure for him if he slips once again in life by making another poor decision like the gun episode. He finally plead guilty to weapon charges and other charges this past month. He is now on probation and electronic monitoring for of all his activities. I will take Ray Allen any day of the week over Delonte and a #5 pick.
I want to remember my Delonte Love-Fest days with a couple of quotes from a Delonte interviews. One when he was still a Celtic and one as a Cavalier. In this first one he was talking about wining and dining (swishing and dishing) his make-believe date out on a yacht somewhere and how the evening would progress. Here is what he said he would want the girl to know about him:
"One more thing: When we're on the yacht eating, we're going to have some Popeyes chicken. That's for dinner. It's to let her know, put a mental image on her mind, first and foremost, if you ain't from the hood, you don't like Popeyes chicken. Everyone there loves Popeyes chicken and the biscuits -- phew. But that's just getting it on her mind, saying, you know, 'Yeah, I can wine and dine you, but I'm a little rough around the edges and I'm keeping it real with you. I can be romantic, but this is real, we're going to eat some chicken tonight. Chicken and biscuits.'"
Classic stuff...hahahahahaha...love it
And here is the serious Delonte answering a question from a 13 year-old kid about tattoos ...(Delonte does a great job here)
Comments: I am thirteen and my mom won't let me get any tattoos. Can you tell my mom that it's okay to get a few?
Delonte: Not at all!
If you don’t have any, that’s a good thing. At first, people went out and got tattoos to be different and be rebels. But now, everybody has them. It’s very rare that you see someone without tattoos. So, it shows that you’re a stronger person to not go along with the in-crowd or go along with the fad. If you have no tattoos, it shows that you’re comfortable with yourself.
I love this answer by Delonte. It shows he has heart, character and the common sense to say the right thing to a 13 year old kid.
Yeah Delonte’s still “my boy” but I guess it was a guilty pleasure. I hope he can succeed in life and basketball. He should however keep one of these cartoon business cards in his pocket and pull it out and look at it on when he feels like life’s just a cartoon.
That’s all folks!!!!