After winning the 2010 NBA title with the Lakers, Ron Artest (now known as Metta World Peace) thanked his psychiatrist. He later held a charity raffle for his championship ring in order to raise money and awareness for a mental health-related charity. Artest deserves praise for his candor about his own mental health and for his advocacy for mental health issues.
In the category of off-the-wall absurdity, however, no NBA player can surpass Delonte West of the Dallas Mavericks. (Apparently, West has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder; to the extent that any of the behavior described below can be chalked up to that, he deserves a pass, or at least consideration.)
West played his college ball alongside Jameer Nelson at St. Joseph’s University, and was a key piece of the 2003-2004 Hawks squad that began the year 27-0 and reached the top of the national polls. That team, which defeated ODU at the Constant Center (with yours truly in attendance), reached the Elite Eight and finished 30-2.
After that season, West entered the NBA draft and was taken in the first round (24th overall) by the Boston Celtics. After a few uneventful seasons in the league, the bizarre began to emerge.
In 2009, West was arrested in Maryland on weapons charges after police stopped him riding a motorcycle while carrying a shotgun in a guitar case on his back, in addition to two other firearms on his person. Was hoping to be cast in the next Robert Rodriguez film?
While playing for Cleveland during the 2010 playoffs, this happened. It won’t be repeated here, but it had the ring of something too outlandish to be wholly fabricated.
In his encore season in Boston in 2010-2011, West got into a post-practice scrap with teammate Von Wafer. Pretty mundane by Delonte’s standards, but it adds up.
After returning to work as a basketball player with the Mavericks, West missed the team’s celebratory visit to the White House, apparently due to the criminal convictions that followed his 2009 scrape with the law. Credit West for this quip, though: “It’s going to be a shame the president isn’t going to get to get a chance to meet me. I’m the president of my house.”
The pièce de résistance, though, came last night in the Mavs’ loss to the Jazz, when West gave Gordon Hayward (my wife’s favorite player since the 2010 NCAA tourney) a wet willy during a stoppage in play. See the video here.
The finger-to-the-ear trick cost West a technical foul and a $25,000 fine. You have to move a lot of ottomans to cover that.