West has point to prove

Updated: August 11, 2004, 3:17 PM ET
By Jason Jordan | ESPN the Magazine

The temperature has reached the upper 90s, but the two men just have to know. Braving the sweltering heat, they roll down the window in their chromed-out SUV, sporting an incredulous look as they take a quick glance at the beat-up, two-door Suzuki creeping alongside them at the stoplight.

Delonte West
Delonte West is driven to show he's more than just a scorer.
Is that? Could it be? The two men debate the matter, thinking there's no way that a first-round pick in the NBA draft would be driving an old, busted heap just a day after being selected.

"Nah," both men say in disbelief. "That can't be D. West."

As the two men drive off, Delonte West puts his mother's car in gear and drives off, letting out a slight giggle.

"They just couldn't believe I would be driving that little car, and it is in bad shape," West said. "The funny thing is that I was just walking less than a month ago."

There's no mistaken identity here. West is just an ordinary guy. He just happens to have big plans.

Like moving mom out of her apartment and into a nice house. Like upgrading that old ride to a full-time, fully-loaded Range Rover.

"I had to get the 4.6 because Jay-Z said you can't push the 4.0," explained West, the rookie guard taken 24th overall by the Boston Celtics. "It had no miles on it. It's white with leather interior, three TVs. ... It's official, man."

West's means of transportation isn't the only thing that has changed this summer. He's learning how to drive the Celtics' offense, too. During summer league, the Celtics often had West play point guard. At St. Joseph's, West mostly played off the ball in the same backcourt with Player of the Year Jameer Nelson.

"In summer league, the offense was set up where either guard could run the point," said West, who faced Nelson at the Pepsi Pro Summer League in Orlando. "I brought the ball up a lot, but at times I played off of the ball."

West felt like he got typecast in the scoring guard role at St. Joe's. "In the college setting, you just get marked for what you're doing for your team," he said. "I was a scorer for St. Joe's, so people felt like that was my game, just scoring. I feel like a point guard on the floor."

As a Celtic, West's workouts have intensified. He enjoys the task of improving his game.

"I've always been an intense worker," he said. "I enjoy playing on the court in games, but I really enjoy the process of getting better."

West says his lifestyle has changed since being drafted. Things move at a much quicker pace now. The rock-star lifestyle in the NBA doesn't really mesh with West's laid-back demeanor and Christian upbringing.

I just feel like I should've been on some team's mind a little earlier than I was, that's all. All my life I've been thinking, 'People just don't know,' but they will.
Delonte West
"Those things like women and partying and all of that side stuff come with the territory," West said. "I'm a very well-grounded person. I'm really into the church, so that nightlife and stuff never really excited me."

Don't get the wrong impression: West is no hermit. He hangs out when he's not grinding it out in the gym or hoisting hundreds of jump shots. However, if you ever ask West what he wants to do on a Friday night, it's almost always going to be to just "stay in and chill."

"I go out if it's a big event," he said. "But for the most part I'm chillin'. You usually see the regulars [at the clubs] every night anyway, so I'm not missing much."

The ones missing out are the teams who passed on him in the draft, says West, who feels fortunate to be in the NBA but has never been one to rest on his laurels.

"I just feel like I should've been on some team's mind a little earlier than I was, that's all," he said. "All my life I've been thinking, 'People just don't know,' but they will. ... They will."

Jason Jordan can be reached at Jason.X.Jordan.@espn3.com.

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