Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Delonte West gets chastised
By Tim MacMahon
DALLAS -- Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle doesn't find anything funny about the "West willy," and the NBA agrees.
Mavs guard Delonte West was fined $25,000 for his bizarre interaction with the Utah Jazz's Gordon Hayward on Monday. After West was whistled for his third foul for swinging his arm at Hayward with 3:40 remaining in the first half, he poked his left index finger into Hayward's ear, his own take on the schoolyard wet willy prank.
He earned a technical foul in the eventual triple-overtime loss for what the league called a "physical taunt." On Wednesday, Carlisle said that he had a stern discussion with West.
"I made it clear to him that that's unacceptable," Carlisle said Wednesday. "He's a competitive guy. But your competitiveness has to manifest in the right way. By and large, he's had a tremendous year for us. And he's done the right things. I see that as an isolated incident and I don't see it happening again."
West, who signed a one-year deal with Dallas in December for the NBA veteran minimum of $1.15 million, didn't question the league's decision, but was surprised by the amount of the fine.
"I didn't think it was going to be that steep," West said before Wednesday's critical home game against the Houston Rockets. "I mean, that's a whole month's check for me. I probably ain't going to have no cable for a couple of days. But the way the league is now -- and I'm not questioning anything -- it's just a play that shouldn't be in the game of basketball."
Video of the incident has gone viral, prompting plenty of punch lines, but there is also a serious side to the situation. West battles bipolar disorder and is grieving the recent death of his grandmother.
West did not attend his grandmother's funeral last week because of his commitment to helping the Mavs earn a playoff berth. He acknowledged that his emotional state was an issue during the Mavs' four-game road trip.
"That's something that me and Coach Carlisle talked about, just trying to find things that trigger and jump into other things," said West, who was also called for a technical foul during Thursday's win over the Golden State Warriors. "That type of situation that happened, I think that might have [been] a trigger point that took me from one extreme of happiness to more of a depressed state. I reacted with anger and kind of exploded a little bit."
One of the reasons the Mavs signed West to a one-year deal is because they wanted somebody with the toughness and edginess that DeShawn Stevenson provided during Dallas' championship run last season. However, Carlisle said West clearly crossed the line against Hayward, hurting the Mavs in the process.
"I'm never going to do anything to take competitiveness away from anybody," Carlisle said. "But in a situation like that, where a competitive advantage is gained by the other team, that's logic enough to stay away from it. And he understands."
Carlisle and West discussed how to channel that competitiveness without crossing the line.
"[Carlisle] knows what type of guy I am. I get intense and I get fiery out there," West said. "He just wants me to channel my energy the right way. You've got to be a smart player in all areas, not just offense and defense. You've got to play the cerebral game too and know when guys are trying to get under my skin."
West joked after the loss to Utah that he was just trying to get some lint out of Hayward's ear. But West acknowledged that he let his emotions get the best of him in a heated moment.
"We're two warriors, man; we're out there battling on the battlefield," West said. "I forgot, the NBA is a gentleman's game, so we've got to fight and scrap and do it nicely. Everything is left on the court, though. That's what it is."
Like Carlisle, Hayward wasn't amused at all.
"I wanted to fight right there, but you can't do that," Hayward said before practice Tuesday. "It wouldn't have been the smart idea. I'd risk getting a technical foul, getting suspended for the season, whatever. There's more important things than fighting someone out on the court. The more important thing was getting the win and we were able to do that."
ESPNDallas.com's Jeff Caplan and The Associated Press contributed to this report.