A Q+A with Hornets forward David West.
by Tracy Weissenberg
It is easy to recognize the qualities of a veteran. They seem to know their way around the game—on and off the court. The ups and downs and ins and outs of a basketball career are much easier to navigate when everything is approached from the right perspective.
For David West, that perspective is to never get away from who he is. On the court, he plays within himself and his abilities. Off the court, he focuses on only the things he can control. When asked how he wants to be remembered, West simply shares the mindset that allows him a successful NBA career. While other players look left and right—at the stats, athleticism, gifts and games of the other guys—he only looks forward, and ultimately, within.
SLAM: The Hornets started off 11-1 and then struggled a bit before getting back on a roll. What is the key to consistency for the team?
David West: I think having a certain level of expectation of our play and consistency with our play is key for us.
SLAM: You have been one of the team’s most consistent players this year as well as the past few years. How would you describe your role?
DW: I know I’m not a focal point in terms of production. How I have to play in order to give ourselves a chance to win is to just try to lead by example. Try to work every single day regardless of stats or things like that. Just try to have a work-like attitude and approach this thing as professional as I know how.
SLAM: Do you feel like you should be more of a focal point in terms of media coverage?
DW: I don’t look for that. It’s just not something that I’ve always looked for. I don’t mind being who I am, so I don’t necessarily look for people to have to validate me or validate what I am as a basketball player.
SLAM: We haven’t heard anything about the status of your contract this season. [West has an early termination option and can become a free agent] Is that a conscious decision between yourself and your representatives to have that play out behind the scenes?
DW: Yeah…I feel like it’s something that we’ll address when the time is right, after the year, and go from there.
SLAM: During your tenure, the team temporarily moved to Oklahoma City after Hurricane Katrina and it was recently purchased by the NBA in order to seek new ownership. How do those circumstances affect the team?
DW: It’s just a part of the business. I just look at it as we really don’t have room to complain in terms of opportunity or the job that we have…we have an opportunity—we worked for this opportunity—but it is a great opportunity. When things like whatever happens, happens. I just chalk it up to the business. Like I said, and try to remain focused on things I can control and go from there.
SLAM: What’s it like the play for the city of New Orleans?
DW: It’s a cool spot to play. New Orleans is unique. It’s unlike any other place in the country. It’s got its own culture, its own rules and people who are from New Orleans kind of march to their own beat and it makes it a very unique place to be.
SLAM: Is your goal to stay with the Hornets or is your mindset to just let everything play out?
DW: Right now, yeah, I feel like we got an opportunity to get ourselves back in the hunt…right now, that’s all I’m looking forward to.
SLAM: You guys seem to have a special team this year—especially with the defensive intensity. Can you talk about the team and the guys you’re playing with?
DW: Well, when we got to training camp, everybody was on the same page immediately, in terms of our focus. We used the preseason as an opportunity to get to know each other and figure out who was gonna do what and what our identity was gonna be and everybody’s bought in.
SLAM: Do you think about your legacy as a basketball player? How do you want to be remembered?
DW: You know I have no idea, I’ve never thought about that. I would imagine somebody who played the game—played hard, tried to play it the right way. Or recognize the type of player that I was—know that I am as a basketball player. I never had a problem with that. I think a lot of times guys try to measure themselves against other people and when they realize they’re not blessed with the same natural gifts, maybe don’t feel so confident about who and what they are. But I’m not like that. I respect who I am, I just try to really be, go out and be the best that I am. That’s all you can be.