Posted by Matt Moore
It's important from time to time to take stock of how quickly life can turn. How it can go from roses to ruin, and that's certainly the case with Delonte West.
West arrived in Cleveland in 2008 in a trade as what was considered an expendable piece of the puzzle the Cavs were trying to put together. But almost immediately, he and LeBron James developed an on-court rapport that was exactly what James needed. Someone to get out and run with, who could hit from the outside, and was always looking to find James to finish in transition. He fit in with the culture in Cleveland, was close with his teammates, and seemed to be gelling. Delonte's career was looking up like it never had.
But then, those same dark forces that bring down so many people in our world began circling West. West had previously admitted he suffered from bipolar disorder, a serious mental condition that inherently creates mental instability and mood swings. Before the 2009 season, West was arrested on gun charges while driving a three-wheeled motorcycle. After being pulled over, he was found to have a 9MM Beretta, a Ruger .357, and a shotgun in a guitar case. All loaded. The jokes were out of control from the media and blogosphere. Mad Max , Rambo . My personal favorite was Once Upon a Time in Mexico . But it wasn't funny. West's intentions were never made clear as to why he was driving with that much firepower, but things became even scarier when he skipped Cavs' training camp while dealing with "personal issues ."
West was in need of help, but wasn't accepting it, and his team and teammates were focused on a championship.
Quietly, West slipped back into the Cavs. The season began, the Cavs were winning, and all the troubles seemed behind West again. Then a second-round exit paved the way for a LeBron James exit. There were salacious rumors not suitable for post here that insinuated West was partially to do with James' departure. Then Thursday, he pled guilty to those same gun charges he was brought with a year ago. He faces electronic monitoring and extensive counseling, though his plea deal did help him to avoid jail time.
Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reports this morning that David Stern is likely to follow up on that sentence with a 3-6 game suspension for West. Windhorst also reports that he's not expected back with the Cavaliers.
West has shown so much promise, and his problems have not been sourced by simple bad decisions (though there have been many) or a laziness on the floor. By all accounts he's been a good teammate and someone that coaches tend to like. He was a pivotal part of the East's top seed's playoff run. And within a matter of months, it's all gone, along with LeBron James.
Life can turn on you in an instant if you make the wrong moves and don't watch out for yourself, or if someone's not watching out for you.
Hopefully someone is watching out for Delonte West right now.