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Find out the scoop on the CAVS from award-winning sports writer Bob Finnan.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Delonte comes 'clean'

Slam Magazine published a fantastic story recently about former Cavaliers guard Delonte West's "Wild Wild West" episode from the summer of 2009.

He was pulled over riding erratically on his three-wheel motorcycle on the Beltway near Washington, D.C. He was packing a shotgun, a knife, and a couple of other handguns.

The story said he never spoke to the media in Cleveland again. That's not technically true. He spoke guardedly at media day, with a public-relations representative standing next to him.

He also cursed at a Cleveland reporter in the locker room.

But that was it.

West came "clean" on the episode in Slam, if you chose to believe him. He had to deal with several legal issues, which are now pretty much behind him. He was also dealing with bipolar disorder, which caused much erratic behavior when he was with the Cavs. He played for Boston last season.

The following is West's take on that fateful night:

Tucked away in his fully finished basement, West’s studio is his sanctuary. Off limits to children, the sparsely furnished wood paneled room is his home within his home. All of that’s why he thought it was the perfect stash spot. Everything was fine — the guns remained safely hidden — until, on the night of Sept. 17, feeling unusually tired, West went to his bedroom pretty early, took his nightly dose of Seroquel (a drug that treats bipolar disorder) and got in bed. Shortly after falling asleep, he was startled awake by shouting.

“Ma Dukes came running upstairs into my room, cursing me, saying she wanted all these (people) out of my house,” West said. “I came to, like, 'What’s going on?' I was already on my Seroquel trip. A few of my cats had found some stuff in the studio and they were living the whole gangsta life thing, guns in the air and this and that.”

I said, ‘Oh my God. What the (heck) are y’all doin’ in here? Y’all got to go. Momma ain’t on that. Kids are running around upstairs. It’s time to go.’”

Gassed up from the commotion, West decided it would be prudent for him to relocate the guns to an empty house he owned nearby. So, with his other vehicles blocked in by guests’ cars, and expecting it to be a short trip, he haphazardly loaded up his Can-Am and placed the weapons in a Velcro-type of bag — “not a desperado, hardcase, gun-shooting-out-the-side type case” — and set off.

“I’m on the Beltway, cruisin’,” West said. “Soon I start realizing I’m dozing in and out. I open my eyes and I went from this lane to that. I’m swervin’, and by the time I wake up, I’m about three exits past my exit.

“There’s this truck flying beside me ... and I’m scared to death. So I (saw) an officer coming up and I try to flag him down. I pull up next to him. He slows down and I get up in front of him. I tell the officer I’m not functioning well and I’m transporting weapons ... The rest of the story is what it is.

“I’m not proud of it, but it looks way worse than it was.”

West said he isn't looking for sympathy. He just wants to set the record straight.

"I’m just saying what it is," he said. "Hopefully, one day people won’t look at me as the boogieman.”

The 2009-10 season was a total mess for West, who was once one of the most accessible and quotable players on the Cavs. He was also a likable guy. After this incident, he became bitter and a different person.

His play on the field also dropped off.

This account of his strange day might be 100 percent true. I have no way of knowing. It seems kind of convenient to come clean now, two years later.

One person close to the situation said he has no reason not to believe it. He said once West got over all the legal obstacles, he was able to open up about the issue.

-- The Cavs are rounding third on hiring their play-by-play radio announcer. One source said interim candidate Mike Snyder has been eliminated. A team source said that's not true because they have yet to reach the finish line. All indications are that Detroit announcer and Cleveland native Matt Dery might be their top choice. He seems to fit the mold they are looking for - young, adept at social media, etc. It should be announced in the next week or so.
-- One candidate for the open assistant coaching job is former Pistons assistant coach and ex-Raptors head coach Darrell Walker. He also worked under Cavs coach Byron Scott in New Orleans.
-- Cavs union player rep Anthony Parker said he wasn't surprised by the NBA canceling the start of training camp. "Few thought that the lockout would be solved in time to start training camp on October 3rd," Parker said via email. "We expected to be at this point."

Thursday, September 15, 2011

One thing to remember

The lockout has lasted most of the summer. There's been a lot of recent bluster from the owners and players about the start of the season being threatened.

Everyone seems to be forgetting something: Some of the players are close to being broke. They live paycheck-to-paycheck, just like many of us do. When they start losing paychecks - their first check is Nov. 15, I'm told - that's when this is going to hit home with the players.

This time last week, the tone of the negotiations changed. Their was optimism. Maybe the NBA season would start on time. Then they met this week and that optimism went down the dumper.

Some players - no names please! - are starting to freak out. They need money to survive and continue to live their lavish lifestyle. There's a lot of money at stake. The owners want to prove their point and make sure they get the upper hand.

That's why there's a good chance games will now be lost. The owners better be sure they know what they're doing. Public opinion is not necessarily on their side.

Many agents think the players' best course of action is to decertify. Union head Billy Hunter said he's not even thought about decertification. Why hasn't he? Observers say if the players decertify, Hunter will lose his job.