Delonte West has been suspended again. It’s believed it’s in response to an “outburst” in the Mavs locker room after their win over the Rockets. As per usual, Delonte’s bipolar disorder is catching the blame for this, though as pointed out on twitter:
Mental illness, depression, anxiety, and other issues related to the mind don’t mesh too well with the NBA. But in the age of talking heads and twitter followers, it’s a thin line between sympathy and annoyance. Do we blame Delonte, or just his brain. Is Royce White’s anxiety so severe that he needs his own bus and a special agreement with management? How many other players suffer from this kind of stuff, but are too afraid to come forward with it? Knowing how the media has reported and editorialized on these two men already, I can’t blame them if they stay in that closet.
So much of excellent team play is based on chemistry. Even the very best cannot overcome a lack of camaraderie with his or her teammates. And if there’s a broken gear in the machine, you get rid of it, and replace it with a working one. That’s how it works. It wasn’t the gear’s fault it was broken. It tried turning, tried contributing to the machine, but hey, you need that machine to work. You need to win.
Are you still a teammate when it’s in contract only? How much is that worth? You don’t get the same protection. In fact, you’re the scapegoat. You’re “the reason.” Teammates can bro-hug you, fist bump you, tell you they’ll miss you as you’re cleaning out your locker, but if they get a title in the end, you’re the last thing on their mind. Because you were the first to go. The first step in being a better team.
You’re just the weirdo who’s mind cost him his career. His happiness. His life. You’re a loser.
You’re a broken gear, and that’s not fair. We ought to treat guys like Delonte and Royce with patience and respect, just as they should continue to seek help. Metta World Peace famously thanked his therapist after winning a championship with the Lakers. That was ten years after drinking Hennessy during halftimes of his rookie year. That was five years after beating the shit out of some fans in Detroit. That was three years before elbowing James Harden in the head.
Mental illness is for life. The varying conditions that come with it can be treated and/or minimized, but there’s no cure. There’s no fixing a brain. So I hope Delonte and any other player with problems like his seeks help, and I hope fans understand if somebody decides to put fulfilling a life before fulfilling a career.