With a big smile on his face, David West wasn’t ashamed to admit it. Though he has been a basketball fan for almost his entire life, there were a few games this past June that he couldn’t bear to lay his eyes on.
“I’ve been a basketball fan, since dude, ’83 or ’84,” said West. “I was a baby. This is probably the first NBA Finals that I didn’t watch a complete game from start-to-finish. It was just one of those things that I just couldn’t do it.”
Of course West is referring to the 2013 NBA Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and the champion Miami Heat, the same squad that defeated the Pacers in a seven-game series during the Eastern Conference Finals. West seems to be ready to get back on the court and put the past behind him, but of course before all that could take place, the business side of the Association had to be taken care of first. On Wednesday the Pacers held a press conference at Bankers Life Fieldhouse to announce that West, along with point-guard C.J. Watson, have officially signed their free-agent contracts to play with Indiana.
“Just the environment that we have, the things that we have done here, I wasn’t going to find a match anywhere,” said West about his three-year, $36 million dollar contract that keeps him a Pacer through the 2015-16 season.
“Again we are right there in terms of how close we are to our ultimate goal. I just didn’t want to mess with that. The guys, and the relationships that I have with some of the guys in this group, and the communication that we have. When you find it, and it fits, you don’t play with it.”
West, who the Pacers got on a discounted two-year $20 million dollar contract due to past knee problems two year ago, has been a force down-low for Indiana. By the numbers he averaged 17.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, and played 73 games during this past season. Just as much as he has contributed on the court, West has been one of the main voices in the Pacers locker room, an established veteran that many of the younger players have looked up too over the two years that he has been in Indianapolis.
“He has done more for this franchise than he could ever imagine,” said President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird.
“Coming in here, establishing himself as a great player on the court, in the locker room, and in the city doing special things. You don’t find men, or players, with the caliber of just being tough, honest, and competing every night as you do in David. David has been so valuable to this franchise, you just don’t see it very often in this league. There are special players that come through and are great players, but they don’t give their heart and soul on the court and in the locker room to make other players better.”