I’m gonna go ahead and throw this out there: I love Delonte West.
Do I think he’s a great decision maker? Most certainly not. Do I think he probably has a couple of screws loose? Almost definitely. Do I think him giving Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz a wet willie is one of the funniest things to happen in professional sports in recent memory? Without a doubt.
Now, before you get bent out of shape, let me say this: He deserved the technical he got for it. He didn’t get ejected, because it’s a wet willie, and anyone who thinks he should have been ejected needs to just sit down, have a nice, warm glass of milk and re-evaluate their priorities.
Delonte is, pardon the lack of professional verbiage here, a nutball. In fact, it should tell you something when the least interesting gossip out there about him is that he hooked up with LeBron James’ mother. For any other NBA player, rumors of an illicit affair with the mother of one of the top three players in the league would be the first, bold bullet point on the facts sheet.
For Delonte West, it’s just another odd occurrence in a life full of odd occurrences.
This is the guy who, at the start of this season's NBA lockout, went to a furniture store to apply for a job just to keep himself busy and out of trouble. Which is probably for the best, considering that on the application, when asked if he had ever been convicted of a crime, he checked the “yes” box. His answer to the follow up question, (“If so, please explain”) was simply, “A misunderstanding."
That’s right, Delonte West’s only crime is being misunderstood.
The day Gilbert Arenas pulled a gun on a teammate in the locker room, he went from blog-happy NBA space cadet to genuinely disturbed player. But there, waiting to step into his very odd shoes, was Delonte West.
The guy has a collection of tattoos which make people scratch their head until it bleeds. And that’s in a league with a pretty low bar for ink standards.
But all of this would be for naught if he weren’t actually, you know, pretty darn good at basketball.
Don’t believe me? Just this weekend, when the Mavs took on the Lakers, it was Delonte West who kept the Mavs within a basket of L.A. for the first half. Dirk was unspeakably cold, finishing a dismal 9-28 from the floor. Lakers coach Mike Brown even realized the threat West posed and pulled Metta World Peace (ugh, still bugs me to type that) off guarding Shawn Marion, putting him on the 6-foot-3 West for the remainder of the game.
So, back to the wet willie: I get it, it’s bad sportsmanship. It’s juvenile. It shouldn’t be encouraged, outside of the giggles it elicits in a pre-K little league game.
But if I’m given a choice, I will always choose something as goofy, weird and non-violent as a wet willie over one of the league’s premier players (Kobe) hurling a homophobic slur at a ref on national television.
Delonte might not be the most mature player in the league. And if you want him to work at your furniture store, you may have to deal with some of his eccentricities. But I just can’t help but love him for his sheer weirdness alone. We need more weird players and fewer violently angry ones in the NBA now more than ever.