Saturday, October 31, 2009
West gets standing ovation on entry
CLEVELAND -- Delonte West's turbulent offseason has finally brought him back to the floor.
Cleveland's troubled guard made his season debut Saturday night, ending more than a month of drama that included personal problems, legal issues, an unexcused absence and the team's blessing for West to leave them in training camp so he could get better.
The Cavaliers' medical staff, working closely with general manager Danny Ferry, cleared him to play against the Charlotte Bobcats. West came off the bench with 4:22 left in the first quarter and received a standing ovation from the Quicken Loans Arena crowd.
West made an almost immediate contribution, hustling to save a ball that was going out of bounce and flipping it to LeBron James, who then fed Anderson Varejao for a dunk. West started the second quarter and came out with 6:25 left before halftime.
West missed all eight preseason games and Cleveland's first three regular-season games as the Cavs' dealt with his delicate situation.
"Steps were followed and this is the next step of his process," Ferry said in explaining the decision to activate West. "We're taking it one day at a time, but he's doing well. We'll continue to support him and put him in the best position to succeed. We're excited to activate him and see where it goes from there."
The 26-year-old, who has been treated in the past for bipolar disorder, traveled with the team on its road trip to Toronto and Minnesota. He has been practicing with the team for nearly three weeks.
Ferry said the team "loosely" targeted this date for West's return.
West has not spoken to reporters since media day last month. He dressed quietly in his locker before the game.
Cavs coach Mike Brown said West, who started 64 games last season, will play point guard with the second unit.
The team is hopeful that West can stay with them and contribute as he has in the past. The Cavs have missed West's defensive intensity and playmaking skills while opening the season 1-2.
West was arrested in September for carrying three concealed weapons when he was pulled over by Maryland police near his home. He reported to training camp on time but missed the Cavs' first four practices without an excuse. He returned but then left the team for a week to deal with his personal matters.
Last week, West's wife filed a domestic violence report against him.
James was pleased to have West back.
"I think he's mentally focused," the league MVP said. "He had some good practices before we went on the road trip, so it's going to be a good addition to our team."
West has a court date scheduled for Nov. 20 on the weapons possession charges. He faces a likely suspension from the NBA.