In addition to being a skilled and tenacious NBA guard, Delonte West has been one of the league's great mysteries. He has long been treated for bipolar disorder. He says entirely off-the-wall things on the record with some regularity. His name has been rumored as part of various off-the-court craziness.
Most glaringly, though, two years ago he was arrested while driving his three-wheeler, of all things, on the Beltway outside D.C., armed to the teeth.
The quiet old question -- what are you thinking, Delonte? -- became something loud and urgent.
And, though they have shouted, he has been silent on the topic to the public, until spending a day with SLAM's Tzvi Twersky.
West told Twersky a few fascinating things, including divulging that until a few months ago -- including most of last season, which he played for the Celtics -- West was on house arrest because of the weapons incident. After games he had to clip on the ankle bracelet and head straight home. On the road he could not leave his room. When he was injured in a game, and taken to the hospital, he was yelled at for leaving the premises without prior permission.
On the topic of that crazy night two years ago (why was he so armed, driving poorly through suburban D.C.?) Twersky writes:
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 September 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 MFers out of my house,” recalls West. “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,” continues West. “And I said, ‘Oh my God. What the f--- 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 says, voice high, emotional and inimitable. “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 --” West pauses; this next part is crucial -- “and I’m scared to death. So I seen 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.