Telander: Delonte West’s ‘willy’ episode bound to make ears perk up
BY RICK TELANDER firstname.lastname@example.org April 20, 2012 11:58PM
Dallas Mavericks' Delonte West (13) comes away with a steal against Houston Rockets' Luis Scola, right, of Argentina,in the first half of an NBA basketball game on Wednesday, April 18, 2012, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Updated: April 26, 2012 1:25PM
A lot of things happened this week in sports, but my interest needle went straight to premier NBA nut case Delonte West.
In a game against the Utah Jazz, the Mavericks guard fouled Jazz swingman Gordon Hayward and then tracked him down, jammed his finger in Hayward’s right ear and gave him a ‘‘wet willy.’’
Technically, it wasn’t wet, since no saliva was involved, but the ‘‘dry willy’’ was delivered with extra force and some muttered words and earned West a prompt ejection and a $25,000 fine.
Afterward, he said with sarcasm, ‘‘I forgot, the NBA is a gentleman’s game, so we’ve got to fight and scrap and do it nicely.’’
I have seen many things in sport, but this gesture was among the most unexpected and — dare I say — original of all. What would come next, a wedgie? Paste-eating?
But it was West who did it. And the guy has long been right out there on the narrow divide.
His rap about chicken and iced tea and barbecue ‘‘SAUCE!’’ with his cousin while waiting in West’s car for their order at a KFC drive-thru is a YouTube classic.
There was his fight with former teammate Von Wafer.
There was his rumored hookup with former Cavaliers teammate LeBron James’ mom, Gloria.
There was his wild ride in a three-wheeled motorcycle while carrying a 9 mm Beretta in his pocket, a .357 Ruger strapped to his right leg and a 12-gauge shotgun in the guitar case on his back. Everything loaded.
There is, of course, his trademark headband and tattooed body, which includes neck ink, scripture, the words ‘‘Sacrifice’’ and “REDZ.’’
There was the rumor he was banned from the White House because of the gun charges. (He wasn’t, though he didn’t attend a ceremony with his teammates.)
There is the fact that when he was with the Celtics, he broke up with his live-in girlfriend and she went medieval on him and, according to the police report, choked and bit West and tried to slash her own wrists with chunks of glass.
There was, and is, the claim that he is bipolar. And that might exclude him from a lot of criticism.
Yet the dry willy stands alone. Crazy or sane.
◆ In a new and terrific book titled, Imperfect: An Improbable Life, by former major-league pitcher Jim Abbott with sportswriter Tim Brown, Abbott talks about being the winning pitcher for the United States baseball team in the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
Abbott, who has no right hand, explains how his connection with White Sox manager Robin Ventura, then the USA team’s third baseman, is cemented for all time, through all things.
In the ninth inning of the championship game against Japan, every fair ball bounced to Ventura, who fielded them all and threw each batter out with sometimes-sailing rockets to first baseman Tino Martinez.
Writes Abbott of the final grounder to Ventura:
We stood with our mouths open, stared and prepared to follow the ball across the infield. Ventura threw and hit Martinez in the chest. We’d won. If I hadn’t felt the weight of all those months, and bus trips, and bad food, and great baseball, and greater expectations, I felt it at that moment. That’s because nineteen guys were lying on top of me. We shouted things that made no sense. We laughed a lot and tried not to cry. We used up the last few ounces of our childhoods, whatever was left after pushing so hard for so long. I’d never been around a more cohesive group.
If I hadn’t felt the weight of all those months, and bus trips, and bad food, and great baseball, and greater expectations, I felt it at that moment. That’s because nineteen guys were lying on top of me. We shouted things that made no sense. We laughed a lot and tried not to cry. We used up the last few ounces of our childhoods, whatever was left after pushing so hard for so long. I’d never been around a more cohesive group.
Abbott would go on to pitch a no-hitter for the Yankees, but that Olympic moment with his pals — with our White Sox manager as the hero — stands out as his best moment ever.
◆ Remember Jamie Moyer when he pitched for the Cubs?
He was on a downhill trend, going from seasons of 7-4 and 12-15 to 9-15 and then getting traded to the Texas Rangers.
The dude is still pitching at age 491/2 and just became the oldest winning pitcher in Major League Baseball history when he pitched the Rockies to a 5-3 win over the Padres on Tuesday.
Moyer had 28 wins in three seasons with the Cubs and 34 losses. Now he has 268 wins and 206 losses in his 25th big-league season. He is without question a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
And isn’t that, somehow, very Cub-like?