Before the Celtics took a trip to Miami, Doc Rivers said Delonte West could possibly join the team in Miami. West never did.
Why not? Because being in Boston was better for him to stay in shape. (Jimmy Toscano, CelticsBlog)
“Four days in Miami, 85 degrees?,” said West. “I would have loved to been there and support my team, but this is where I needed to be, right here in this gym putting my time in. Those guys, they put their work in – they deserve four days in Miami. This is where I need to be right here.”
Anybody who turns down four days in Miami so he can stay in Boston, in November, to work on his jumpshot and conditioning, is okay with me.
That said, don’t expect West to be capable of playing 40 minutes in his first game on Wednesday, even if Rivers wanted him to. There’s quite a difference between being in shape and being in game shape, and West understands that. He’s anxious to see how his conditioning translates to the court.
He’s also happy that the Celtics just want him to be him.
“There’s no pressure,” he told Toscano. “Like I said, I know what I can do. I know what I bring to the floor. I’m very confident in what I’m able to do out on the basketball floor, and they’re not asking me to do anything that I can’t do. They’re not telling me to go out there and post up and get 30 rebounds (Editor’s note: aka to be Kevin Love). They’re just telling me to go play my game. That’s the best feeling ever, when they’re telling you that you being you is going to help this team out. So I think that’s going to be easy for me.”
Easier than sitting out the first ten games, for sure. West said the worst part of the suspension was missing locker room time. While his teammates listened to Rivers’s pregame speeches and took the court as a team, West could only watch on television. “It’s been a long two weeks for me,” he admitted.
West became the team’s biggest fan during his suspension. He watched his teammates on television (“I was up cheering, my neighbors banged on the wall a few times,” he said) and felt lucky to be a part of it. West told the Boston Globe, “It makes you appreciate being in the NBA all over again.”
If watching on TV from afar was enough to make him appreciate being in the NBA, I can only imagine how playing Wednesday night will feel. West will return to a Garden crowd that first made him a fan favorite years ago, a Garden Crowd that appreciates the tenacity and hustle West brings to the floor each night. If any group of fans is ready to embrace West, even with his off-court issues of the past couple seasons, it’s Boston’s. The Celtics have history with West, and their fans grew to love West a long time ago.
West may not receive a lot of playing time right away (Doc Rivers said, “Just going to throw him in, see what his lungs can take, and see what he knows without taking us out of rhythm”), but he projects to become one of the bench’s top contributors. He should also lighten the load on Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, both of whom have played too many minutes in the early season.
“I’m just ready to go,” West told Toscano. “[I want to] help this team out the best way I can. If that’s Wednesday night or not, it doesn’t matter. I’m just happy to have the suspension behind me and able to know if my number is called I’ve prepared myself well to go out there and try to help out the best that I can.”
Let’s hope West’s best is what we expect. Missing West’s production, the Boston Bench Mob hasn’t been much of a mob.