Celtics guard Delonte West will be keeping a monthly diary for ESPNBoston.com. In this first installment, Delonte talks about opening night against the Heat and the 10-game suspension that prevents him from playing in it, being reteamed with Shaquille O'Neal and why his new tattoo signifies the struggles he's gone through. -- As told to Louise K. Cornetta
In this diary I want to talk about what's going on this season here in Boston. But if questions about my past do come up, that's alright with me. People make mistakes but that's what life is. You've got to learn from them and keep going.
This team is here to win. The unselfishness stands out. Everyone is just submerging themselves within the team. It's all about team here. That's the type of player I am anyway, I'm always about the team. I put the team before my individual goals my whole career. It's good to be on a team like this. I played with Shaq last year and now here we are together on the Celtics. You can run down a list of things he brings here: Experience, talent, depth, size, offense, defense. Just about everything you can think about and then add a guy that's been on the big stage numerous times. He just has a wealth of knowledge to share with the guys.
It's good camaraderie with the veteran guys on this team also. I'm pretty sure they used to bump up against each other playing against one another and it's good for them to sit around now and they can talk about back in the '90s about this game or that game. It's pretty cool. Paul Pierce said as time goes by it's important to enjoy this year and I agree. I think you appreciate the little things in life. You look around and you realize you're on a team like this. You see the talent in the room. You see the history. Because of all that, you really start to embrace it and appreciate the time that you have. The lifespan of NBA careers is not that long. All the guys in this room are over that expectancy and we’re still going and can keep on going. You've just got to enjoy it.
Like I said, we have good camaraderie on this team. Doing things like going to the movies to see "Due Date" and then going to Fenway Park to play softball with my teammates was amazing. The field there looks a lot different on TV. When you sit in that dugout it's like a whole other stage to be on that I realized I didn't know too much about. It was a good experience. I didn't realize a lot of guys on our team were actually talented baseball players. Rondo was an All-Star. His athleticism and his speed is amazing. How quickly he could get to bases and he was running balls down, it was unreal. A lot of the guys out there could hit the ball. Surprisingly, Shaq was a pretty good first baseman. He was catching everything! It was a good experience.
It feels wonderful to be back here. I'm coming back having a different hindsight. I'm a little wiser these days. I have different goals in mind than I once had. I always had the goal to win the championship -- that's still the No. 1 goal. But life off the court changed for me, I look at things differently. In that sense, my mind is grown. My body has grown and my spirit has grown. I'm just enjoying being back in Boston.
Danny Ainge called me one of the most competitive players he's known and I agree with that. I'm very competitive. I don't play too many video games at home because I can't stand to lose. I'm known for ripping Sega or knocking Nintendo down or trying to break the game after I lost. I leave video games alone or now I play neutral games like Crash Bandicoot or something.
I don't know if I'm prepared to answer this. You want to know who is Delonte West? I'm not going with what Nate Robinson would like me to say. He says I'm the Joker from the Batman movie. I'm not going to allow Nate to label me. I'm also not going to start out saying I'm a basketball player. Actually, I'm a son. I'm a brother. I'm a cousin. I'm an uncle. I'm a next door neighbor. I'm just like you are. Most people, they run into me at the Walmarts and the Coscos and the Home Depot and the most surprising thing they find out about me is that I'm a lot more normal than people think I am as far as having my feet on the ground and being a human being. After those things, you've got to throw in God-fearing. After all those things, then I play basketball.
What else can I tell you about me? I'm a big football fan. My team? Redskins, all day. Yes indeed they beat the Packers in overtime. But listen, we already beat Dallas for the year at home. We already won our Super Bowl. The city's still celebrating.
What else, trying to think of what's changed since I was last here? I got a new tattoo. It goes across my chest. It says, "Via Dolorosa." It has different meanings. If you look it up, you can kind of get the No. 1 meaning for it but it has different meanings. It started off as the path that Jesus Christ took when he carried his cross from where he was getting whipped to where he was crucified at -- that passage was called the Via Dolorosa. But over the years it's kind of changed to mean basically his struggle, what he went through. That's why I got a tat across my chest, I'm living my Via Dolorosa.
Opening night everyone knows is Heat versus Celtics and our big three against their big three. It's going to be good for NBA basketball this year, that's all I can say. It's going to be good for the league. It's going to be good for the Celtics here. It's going to be good for Miami. Like I said, it's going to be good for the NBA and the fans to have something to talk about all year.
It's going to be hard not to play in the first 10 games for me as I serve a suspension. At the same time, we have a great team here. When you can't contribute in one way, you have to contribute other ways. Also I have more time to get in the gym and get in even better shape than I am in. It never hurts to be in the gym. Like I said, if you can't help out on the court, you've got to help out other ways.
Everyone knows the Celtics came close to winning another ring last year, went all the way to the last game. Then you have Shaq and I being on a team that was supposed to be in the big game. Guys here taste blood. We want it. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel. But at the same time, we know what it takes it get there. That's going to be the fun thing that we're looking forward to is the road to get there. I think the guys in this room know how to do it.
(Editor's note: Delonte West is suspended without pay for the first 10 games of the season after pleading guilty to weapons charges over the summer.)