Delonte West: Should He Come Back To the Boston Celtics?

Ro ShiellAnalyst IAugust 6, 2010

ORLANDO, FL - MAY 30: Delonte West #13 of the Cleveland Cavaliers walks off the court after being defeated by the Orlando Magic in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2009 Playoffs at Amway Arena on May 30, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Have you ever been unfortunate enough to have a team lose a game on a last second shot to finish the season? Like the way Duke fans might have felt if Butler's half court heave had fallen in the NCAA finals? This means for many months you have anticipated holding some silverware, only to have that taken away with one play.

You may experience an overpowering feeling of shock, nausea, or ultimately, hopelessness, and may not be proud of your immediate behaviour at a later review.

Luckily, that is if you have not incited a riot or started a bar fight and subsequently have to deal with the law, you will recover and move on; but for people suffering from bipolar disorder, this is a constant feeling.

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness which can see sufferers experience depression, paranoia, and hallucinations. As this disease is hard to diagnose, many celebrities use it as an excuse for erratic behaviour.

From Britney Spears shaving her head and holding the media hostage to her melodrama, to Robert Downey Jr.'s  illegal drug affair, to Jean Claude van Dam’s plummet into cocaine snorting and spousal abuse, bipolarism is the common theme (or so they say).

Welcome to the life of Delonte West, who has had a history of sullen silences, and out of the ordinary behaviour. In 2008, the Cleveland Cavaliers gave him time off to seek treatment and he has been seen speaking to the team psychologists on numerous occasions, plus his teammates have even accepted his short comings.


"We've been around this block before with Delonte, so we know how to handle it," LeBron James said, commenting on West’s unexcused absence at the start of training camp last season.

This history gives the story merit that the guard does suffer from bipolar disorder after police pulling him over on a three-wheel motorbike armed to the teeth with a 9mm Berretta in his waistband, a Ruger .357 strapped to his leg, a shot gun inside a guitar case, on his back, and also carrying an 8 1/2-inch Bowie knife.

Amanda from did an interview with Kenneth Robbins, M.D., clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison last year. Although he was not familiar with West’s individual case, he was able to shed some light on the illness.

“The vast majority of the time, when they’re not manic and they’re not depressed, these people are just like everybody else,” says Dr. Robbins. “So if they commit a crime, the bipolar disorder should only play a role if they were either depressed or manic at the time.

“If somebody is manic, they are not thinking clearly and—particularly if they’re psychotic—that could certainly play a role in their poor decision making and should be taken into consideration when it comes to sentencing.”

That’s probably why he was only given eight months of home detention after pleading guilty to the weapons charges as a first-time offender. The guard was also given two months probation and ordered to undergo counselling.


If he truly suffers from this illness, adjusting to NBA life must not have been easy, as some of the symptoms are paranoia, hallucination, and depression—especially with all the hangers on, double agents, and the usual con-men looking to fleece a young millionaire.

West has always been a loner, according to a blog on Celtics Green published in 2006. He grew up in a tough neighbourhood of Washington DC, and his only outlet was emulating Michael Jordan’s moves on the basketball court on his own.

His family was evicted three times and at one point he had to share a bed with his mother and two siblings. He attended three different middle schools and had a tough time keeping up with his academics as a result. 

Moving from an impoverished childhood to the bright lights of the NBA must have been tough for someone who suffers from paranoia. Like West, Buzz Aldrin suddenly shot to fame after his trip to the moon and had trouble adjusting to his new life.

John Noble Wilford, who did a fantastic story on the astronaut said, “Mr. Aldrin’s problems began almost immediately as he struggled to adjust to life in the limelight. This made him increasingly uncomfortable, which led to erratic behaviour and eventually, depression and alcoholism. In any event, he was hospitalized for severe depression.”


Aldrin has never been officially linked to bipolar disorder; however, this proves the point of ordinary people, unlike actresses and performers who welcome the attention, who are suddenly thrust into a celebrity lifestyle has to deal with.

West’s attorney told the court that “there was no nefarious purpose” and that the player was merely transporting the weapons from one of his homes to the other, which are 12 miles apart. But, West’s father was reported to have said that the NBA player had thought that that someone was out to get him.

This fits the behaviour of someone being “manic,” as Dr. Robbins alluded to earlier. Why on earth would someone transport three guns to an alternative site, loaded with a bowie knife to boot?

To make matters worse, the route he undertook was not the most direct between his pads.

Currently a free agent after being recently waived by Minnesota Timberwolves, West possesses a skill that sets him apart from most players in the NBA. He could get his jump shot off at will and he has a high basketball IQ.

This will come in handy for any championship contender for the coming season. On top of that, any team that signs him may do so at a cut price, considering the player’s legal issues and the NBA has yet to hand out any punishment to him.


Three teams interested are the Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, and Boston Celtics.

Since losing Eddie House, the Celtics have not had a reliable backup for Ray Allen. The Bulls need a consistent bench after hopelessly releasing almost their entire roster to attract LeBron James, and the Mavericks could benefit from some youth in their back court.

It would be a shame if there are no takers for this talented young man considering he has said that he was off his medication at the time of the gun incident. Taking on someone with this kind of baggage is risky, but as Dr. Robbins pointed out:

“If people don’t know what he’s going through, it runs the risk of further stigmatizing mental illness and looking like he’s taking advantage of the system. But it’s also an opportunity to educate people and help them understand what he’s struggling with and how, with treatment, he’s likely to respond and these events will hopefully not continue to take place.”