In another era, the NBA was full of colourful characters. Just as an example, Darryl Dawkins had his home planet, "Lovetron." The great Charles Oakley, who when he wasn't beating up Tyrone Hill or Jeff McInnis, coined a language called Oakspeak with gold quotes like this one on the mid-90s New York Knicks: "We're like Jekyll and Hyde, like Jack and Jill. You know, they all went up the hill."
Even with a guy like Metta World Peace today, that era is sadly, for the most part gone. However we still have Delonte West.
Forget the Gloria James rumours, West has been one of the better quotes in the Association since arriving on the scene out of St. Joe's eight years ago. "We gon' celebrate, but we ain't poppin no Cristal, it tastes like urination," he once said about how he would treat a date. Later, while playing in Boston, he took a page from Oakley's book by co-opting children's entertainment in expressing his love for a certain Looney Tunes character:
"Bugs Bunny is the smoothest dude I ever met. You know he be chillin' like it just be a normal day and he ... it be cold just like how it is in Boston and he just want to dive in the ground, pop up, he be like oh man this ain't Albuquerque. That's got to be the tightest life you just hop underneath the ground and go! No traffic, no Mass pike, no tolls, no taking Yankee hats off, just underneath the ground...BAM...carrots...Albuquerque."
West is no dummy. In fact, he apparently thought he was smart enough to take it upon himself Monday to play the role of U.S. Secret Service by telling everyone that his 2010 criminal conviction on weapons charges would exclude him from the Dallas Mavericks' visit to the White House.
"I'm banned from going to the White House, so I'm not going to make it," the Washington native told the Fort Worth Star Telegram Saturday. "But I'm going home to D.C., I'm just not allowed to go to the White House. That's what happens when you make bad decisions in your life. You can't go to the White House."
Unfortunately however, West was wrong. Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan clarified Monday that West was in fact cleared by security and would have been allowed to participate in the Mavericks' visit with President Obama (although it turns out one Mav did momentarily have a security issue: Ian Mahinmi).
But moving the story forward as always, West had gone off on a Twitter rant about other things
-- chicken and sleeping in his car among them -- before any of that was resolved.
It's very likely West just didn't want to go because he felt he didn't deserve it. The Mavericks had apparently told he, Lamar Odom, Vince Carter and Brandan Wright they were welcome to join the rest of the team on the presidential visit even though they didn't play for Dallas last season and therefore had nothing to do with their NBA championship.
So should they not have gone? No they shouldn't have. Not when players who did contribute to the title -- like J.J. Barea -- couldn't go because he was spending the day in Toronto with his new team, the Minnesota Timberwolves. It's D.C. There's other stuff to do. Go visit the Smithsonian or eat at Ben's Chili Bowl
Forget West, he's at least providing us with entertainment in the interim. But the idea of Carter getting a free trip to the White House bugs me (for the record, the new Mavs weren't part of the team picture with Obama, and I'm not even certain if Vince attended).
Oh, and a parting thought to bring you back to the beginning of this story: Vince was never the same player he was in Toronto after Oakley left. So there.
Usually I'm not one to fawn over athletes taking a position that gives the appearance of moral high ground. However, you've got to give Steve Nash some credit for the way he's handling being 37 years old as a member of the Phoenix Suns. When asked by ESPN's Marc Stein last week about the possibility of a trade, his response was: "It's not my style. Maybe I'm old school, but I feel like that's not my place to give up on my team, give up on my teammates. I signed a contract and made a commitment."
He went on to say that okaying a trade scenario is not like choosing a restaurant, and that the arrangement has to work for both parties involved. He maintains he won't ask the Suns organization to trade him.
Nash is still playing at a reasonably high level. While age has slowed his scoring ability somewhat, he's still averaging almost 10 assists per game -- thanks in large part to a 17-dime effort against Milwaukee Sunday -- despite the fact there is no real scoring threat on the Phoenix roster. Marcin Gortat is developing into a nice player, but behind him are names like Jared Dudley and Hakim Warrick -- not to mention 39-year-old Grant Hill. While it's a shortened season and anything can happen, this isn't a playoff team.
A player Nash is often compared to, John Stockton, played statistically at about the same level until retiring at 40. The difference was then, the Utah Jazz were still winning games and contending. Phoenix now is simply waiting for cap room to clear next summer -- including Nash's contract. And while the possibility exists that the Suns will lose him for nothing, it appears to be a real chance the team will take.
Stein pointed out that the Suns may have accepted they're not going to land solid-enough talent in any Nash trade, and in the interim will just let the onetime Kid Canada play out the string in what has been his NBA home for 10 of the last 16 years. It's a wise move on Phoenix's part -- if Nash won't ask for a trade, they won't force one for pieces they don't want. And quite frankly, next summer, they'll only lose a 38-year-old.
But it's too bad in a way. As a fan, it would be nice to see Nash on a contender -- even in a smaller role, and even if it's not what Nash says he wants.
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