A Farewell to David West

Published: December 12, 2011

So after 8 years as a Hornet, David West has gone out in the same manner in which he played for the Hornets – an afterthought to the sublime scene-stealing talent of his longtime teammate, Chris Paul. 

It shouldn’t be that way.  West owns one of the top spots in the Pantheon of players to wear the Teal (and Creole Blue), next to original Hornets Dell Curry and Muggsy Bogues.  I’m not sure how many of you know just what he has accomplished for the Franchise – but had he played for the Hornets this year, I had a slew of articles ready to roll:

  • West grabs franchise record in defensive rebounding
  • David West sets franchise record in Minutes Played
  • David West most prolific scorer in Hornets History
  • David West seizes franchise record in total rebounding
  • David West’s jumper tonight sets franchise record for number of Field Goals

But piddling little thing like franchise records aside, David West was, quite simply, my favorite Hornet.  Everything about West’s game was unexpected.  He’s built like a rock, yet has one of the sweetest mid-range set shots in the game.  Despite limited foot-speed, he could find space at any time for his shot.  For years he’s been able to attack off the dribble in isolation as well as any forward in the league, regularly putting the lie to the oft-repeated nonsense about him being a jump shooter who lived off of Chris Paul. 

The most unexpected moment of his career, however, was in 2005, when Byron Scott told reporters they had traded Jamaal Magloire and moved PJ Brown to center primarily to clear room for David West at the power forward position.  David West of the season-ending “bone bruise” from the year before.  David West, of whom I had vague memories of a short power forward clapping in angry frustration a lot after missing easy putbacks.  That was what I knew of David West when he was named starter. 

I thought Scott had lost his mind. 

Then, of course, West stepped onto the court and generated 17 points a game, hitting four game-winners and giving CP3 a young, promising partner in the quest to make the Hornets relevant again. 

He had worked hard during his injury hiatus to come back that strong – something I feel he made the hallmark of his career.  Every summer he’d return to the Hornets with another wrinkle to his game.  Last summer he added a deadly baseline stepback after a jab step.  The summer before he developed a counter move in the post that kept him from having to take a shot while crossing the paint 8 feet from the basket – the place he’s been least effective his entire career.  The summer before that he rid himself of an annoying tendency to get called for a travel after a pump-fake, cutting an already low turnover rate.

He’s just a self-made basketball player.  Coming out of Xavier as a Senior he was selected by the Hornets outside of the lottery.  Scouts said he was too small to play power forward.  He was too slow to play small forward.  His offensive game wasn’t suited to the pros, and he was bound to be a poor rebounder when put up against the athletic freaks common in the NBA.  He was the classic ‘tweener, and we all know how those guys turn out.

But he didn’t turn out that way.  Instead he gave us years of entertainment, two all-star appearances, a slew of memorable game winners working the pick and pop with CP3, a memorable playoff run, and years of workman-like production.

It upsets me a little that he’s going out with so little fanfare.  It upsets me a little that he went to Indiana for a reasonable two-years and $20 million.  I wanted him to be stolen away from us by a contender – or for a contract that was just too long for the Hornets to justify matching.  Instead, he leaves for a reasonable contract with a team that isn’t really any better than what the Hornets could field this season. 

That hurts.  That sucks.

So this year will be the first without David West in close to a decade.  I’ll miss the perpetual scowl on his face, the disbelieving and sour look he’d deliver to the referees.  I’ll particularly miss the ridiculous “And-1” shouts he’d toss out there all the time – even for teammates. 

I wish you the best, David West.  Thanks for the memories.


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