David West is the most physical, bruising player on a team that excels due to its physical, bruising nature. When he signed with the Pacers, it changed the team’s culture. His daily example of, really, just being himself helped institute a franchise-wide mentality of personal accountability, professionalism and doing whatever it takes to get the job done.
West recently sat down to talk with Zach Lowe of Grantland. They discussed many a topic, but what stands out to me is just the typical “David West being David West stuff.”
Here is an excerpt.
[Lowe:] You’ve had a lot of run-ins in your day — with Udonis Haslem, Shane Battier, Mario Chalmers. You got tossed, I think, for a flagrant on Mike Miller when you guys were both on different teams. There was a push-in-the-back flagrant on Al Horford in the playoffs last season. Is there a line between being a leader and being an agitator? Do you walk right up to it?
[West:] I just try to play with an edge. I try to set the tone, in terms of our aggressiveness. That was one of the things this group was lacking when I got here — that hit-back, that push-back. I think you have to play a certain way, and have a certain attitude, and carry yourself a certain way if you want to be successful. It’s not always about knocking somebody to the floor, but there is a time and place for it.
Your right shoulder is a weapon in the post. You move guys out of the way with it. Has anyone ever just said, “Damn, man, that freaking hurts.”
Nah, nah, nah. [Laughing.]
It looks like it hurts.
I just stay within myself. I know exactly who I am, and that’s part of my game — being able to use my strength, and use angles, to try to be effective.
And there was also this.
Do you like when Miami takes out guys like Battier, or Miller in the past, or Michael Beasley now, and leaves LeBron in there as the only true power forward — meaning he has to guard you?
You know, they’ve gotten away from that.
They don’t do it much. But when they do it, do you say to yourself, “OK, let’s take things down to the block now”?
They don’t do it much, but when they do it, it’s an opportunity to wear him down a little bit. I’ve been playing the power forward position all my life. When teams go small, you try to put guys in that position. It takes a toll on their bodies if they’re not used to it. There are certain things fours [power forwards], you know, that we do to one another in a game — elbow, hit each other — that we kind of let go. Threes [small forwards] aren’t used to that. They’ll take it personal, or say, “Hey, this guy’s doing this.” But when you’re out there with other fours around the league, it’s all forearms in the back and other things. That’s just what it is.
I like the way he phrases that. Small forwards — which is a euphemism he could use for just about every forward in the league not named David West — tend to take his normal, brutish behavior personally.
To which I simply offer this.