Twice in a Lifetime: A David West Lament

Published: March 30, 2011

I have a print in my house under a gold colored cast iron fleur-de-lis. It features Bryon Scott, Tyson Chandler, Peja Stojakovic, Chris Paul, and David West. I got it during the 2007-2008 season at a party for season ticket holders. The print means a good deal to me for a number of reasons, some of which should be clear to anyone who has been a Hornets fan since that season, and some of which are less obvious. Plus, it’s pretty cool.

Three of those figures are gone, leaving two people from the print still with the team. Having been assaulted with Chris Paul exit chatter for almost a year, I’ve been getting used to the fact that there may be only one quite soon.

And now, in the snap of a knee, there could be none. My print will be a relic, a link to the past with only a tenuous connection to the current team, partly emotional, partly academic.

As each person in my print left the team, I felt some sadness. Who wouldn’t? Each one of them has a special place in my heart, and I’m not just talking about the NBA chamber of it.

Of the two left, Chris Paul is clearly the better player. He is not, however, my favorite player. Nope, that’s David West, and he may be as good as done with this injury, at least in terms of me seeing “the real D West” play for the Hornets again.

I’ve lost a favorite player before: Deuce McAllister of my beloved New Orleans Saints. With Deuce, however, I saw his entire career, and he was with the Saints for all of it. I saw him recover from injury, get injured again, and make an emotional appearance during the Black and Gold Super Bowl season. Also, although the last major injury he suffered was sudden, it was early in the season, giving a long time to adjust to the loss. His eventual departure from the team was slow, predictable, and as painless as possible, as he just went to his couch up the road, near Jackson, Mississippi. Then we had Lombardi Gras, part of whose effect was to send Deuce gently into that good night, a fitting farewell for perhaps the greatest player to wear only our colors for his entire career. That ultimate injury, by the way, was a tear of the ACL in his left knee caused by an awkward landing.

With David, the tear of the ACL in his left knee caused by an awkward landing happened in the middle of the Hornets’ push for the playoffs, and there is nothing at all predictable about David’s future with the Hornets, or the Hornets’ future in general. We have a team sale, NBA labor issues, his player option, a free agency class he could lead, the uncertainty surrounding Chris Paul, our outlook for winning a title, and on, and on, all clouding the possible return and the eventual departure of our Creole Blue clad hero.

And it sucks.

In fact, that is precisely what I’m going to write about for the rest of this article: How this sucks . . . for me.

Other people are going to write about him leaving or staying, how good he is or how bad he is, how him staying affects Chris staying or how Chris staying affects him staying, yada yada yada. I’m going to write about what sucks about him getting injured.

It’s going to cost him and his family millions one way or another. This is true generally for many players who suffer injuries, but this could honestly be one of the costliest injuries, from a player perspective, in NBA history. Now, you may say, “42, this isn’t about you!” Oh, yes it is. I’m a fiercely loyal person who is slow to love and quick to defend. What hurts David, hurts my heart. What sucks for me: Codependence.

I’m constantly worried about the implications of his injury that I’m not going to discuss here. I stare into space when I should be doing something else, I get mad or sad when I shouldn’t be so.  When it really gets to me, I have the emotional stability of a hormonal teenager. What sucks for me: Anxiety, Depression.

I won’t be able to see those jumpers that the guys call fluffy, and I have yet to be able to think of a better descriptor of those beautiful shots of his. Good job, by the way, guys. What sucks for me: Selfishness, dullness.

No one in the building is as intimidating as Mr. West. David is a quiet guy. No flash. His “and one” barks are about as loud as he gets. But, as Dirk knows and Nenad came close to finding out, David West can be as scary as a hatchet glistening in the moonlit rain just outside your bathroom window. What sucks for me: Bullying.

I’m going to have to learn a whole new flow of the game. I’ve spent the past 2 seasons constantly trying to figure out what whichever coach is going to do in whatever situation with whomever is on the team. It’s been a nightmare. Now I have to go through it again with the loss of the player I’ve seen play more games than any other athlete. Yes, any other. In the universe. In other words: I just got dumber. I don’t like being dumb or dumber. And yes, I’ve been in rooms where I was the dumbest. What sucks for me: Stupidity.

I’m going to have to wait to see which big scored. My eyes aren’t 20-20 and I sit in the balcony. Even though they are in the first row and I bring binoculars, I have difficulty quickly telling Landry from Okafor from the cue I use most often with basketball players: The top of their heads. Faces, numbers, etc. get hidden far more often than the top of the players’ heads. What sucks for me: Slowness.

I’m going to think, “This isn’t right” several times a game. This is not something I like to think. I like to feel like my seat is my home. I’m surrounded by friends, great food, excellent music, and wonderful entertainment. Do I really have to have a David Byrne moment in my beautiful house? Do I really have to pick between being delusional and a malcontent? Or am I both? What sucks for me: Indecision, delusions, malcontentment.

If we win a game, I’m going to think, “I wish David could have been a part of this.” If we lose a game, I’m going to think, “I wish David could have been a part of this.” Nothing is going to make me happy until this passes, if it ever does. What sucks for me: Depression.

I’m just going to miss him, even though he’ll be sitting mere feet away, making me some modern version of Tantalus in some tricked out Tartarus. What sucks for me: Obsession.

Will I ever see him score a point for me again? Did I enjoy that dunk enough? Am I supposed to enjoy the play on which he got hurt? Did I take the game winners for granted? Am I a bad fan? What sucks for me: Self-loathing.

So what sucks about this whole mess? I went from being regular ol’ 42 to being a stupid, indecisive, obsessive, selfish, slow, dull, depressed, anxious, delusional, obsessive, codependent, self-loathing bully with a print in my house that’s turning from a living portrait to a headstone.

The epitaph: Thanks.

Thanks (42's Print)

(42's Print)


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  3. NO-CHI

    March 30, 2011 at 7:22 am

    Well, look @ it this way. David West is probably going to stay. Only the Hornets can take the chance of re-signing him. & West has to take his extension so that he can heal and display what he has. And we saw that a front-court of Ariza, Okafor and Gray does not mean Armaggedon for the Hornets.

  4. paul

    March 30, 2011 at 7:45 am

    42…’s only entertainment.

    Personally, I would rather meet you than West.
    I would rather sit in on a night of food and drink with you, Nik, Rohan and all these other fantastic new blog pals than anybody on the team.
    OK, probably not Gray(:-)

    Look, this is the real by product of thought. Ignorance is truly bliss.
    But somehow you need to do as I do…poor yourself deeper and deeper into whatever you do well.
    My release is tennis and water sports.
    Sort of a mind focus and distraction

  5. Stew

    March 30, 2011 at 7:51 am

    In the same way that I refer to classic band lineups, I will always refer to the CP3, Peja, D-West and Tyson lineup as THE classic NOLA Hornets lineup.

    I couldn’t stare at that poster everyday, 42. Too tough to take. Too much loss. You’re a bigger man than me.

    • clutch19

      March 30, 2011 at 8:30 am

      I agree, that was a great lineup… Just think how far we would have went if Ariza was on THAT team…. CHAMPIONSHIP!!!!!!

      • Ian H.

        March 30, 2011 at 10:16 am

        Ariza woulda handcuffed Manu in the second round of the playoffs and if Dwest wouldn’t have hurt his back we woulda beaten the Spurs in 6. Then the Lakers that year couldn’t stop the pick and roll to save their lives and were without Bynum we possibly could have beaten them as we split with them in regular season that year. Ariza wouldn’t have needed to score just play great d and run the fastbreak with cp3 and Tyson. 2 elite athletes with size playing with cp3 at the same time, unstoppable!

  6. Hornet Seantonio

    March 30, 2011 at 8:17 am

    42………… complete me.

    Diddles 4 ever

  7. MaxJD_Nola2NYC

    March 30, 2011 at 8:17 am

    42, I feel your pain… Literally lol I feel almost the same way but Carl Landry gives us hope in the same way we saw Darren Collison develop in our loss of CP3 last year.. I think we have a shot at title contention and it starts with a huge moral victory tonight against the Blazers

  8. NolaHog

    March 30, 2011 at 9:39 am

    What was your favorite David West game/moment? For me, I clearly remember the game that we played in LA against the Lakers a couple of years ago. West had like 40 points, and I remember how he completely OWNED Pau Gasol. He was hitting everything from outside, and when Gasol started to come out on him, he’d just drive to the goal for effortless layups and baby hooks. For a big man, he’s so light on his feet. I love just watching his footwork when he gets the ball down in the low post.

    Is it just me, or has the Hornets’ season been the NBA equivalent of a season of LOST?

    • 42

      March 30, 2011 at 10:53 am

      When I think of D, I think of the face tap on Dirk. To me, it was one of the most awesome moments in all of sports. These guys are in the heat of battle, things get to that personal level, and Dirk contact’s D’s face. Intentional, accidental, whatever. D paralyzed him with a stare (thr hatchet one), and tapped hom on the face gently while, I’m assuming, expressing displeasure. Dirk just stood there and took it, then looked to me like he wanted to beg for forgiveness in some publicly acceptable way.

      To me, everything about it is a microcosm of his game and presence. Understated, but powerful. Walk softly, carry a big stick. Respect from his peers. Solid. Hickory.

      As far as a game moment, no one else may remember this, but we were in a tight game in Cleveland. Chris got the ball, drove in, passed back to D in his spot, and he drained it. The James Gang were then behind with no timeouts and did nothing with the inbounds. We win. I remember because I called the play at a shindig at my place, we won, and, again, it was emblematic of the game. Every one of us knew D could do it, but the bad guys only saw Chris . . . And they paid for their dismissal . . .

      Good call on Lost!

      • Stefan

        March 30, 2011 at 12:52 pm

        I remember that play like it was yesterday. Ahhh….

  9. Ryan Schwan

    March 30, 2011 at 10:54 am

    I loved this.

  10. MaxJD_Nola2NYC

    March 30, 2011 at 11:51 am

    +1 on the walk softly carry big stick.. What’s an oxymoron is that DWest never dunks so emphatically, and to get hurt on a play that was so epic and full of passion was bannanas

  11. sceldred

    March 30, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Awesome piece. The agony and gratitude of a hardcore fan.

  12. lancebrou68

    March 30, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    well 42 bro at least ur not alone cuz i feel this way too

  13. Nithenz

    March 31, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Great thing to read. Thanks 42!

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