Grieving Delonte West gets back on an even keel

DALLAS -- The “West willy” provided plenty of punchline fodder.

The league office didn’t find it too funny, deeming it a $25,000 offense, but a lot of folks laughed after watching Delonte West intentionally poke his left index finger into Gordon Hayward’s ear. Hey, it’s easy to see the humor in such a bizarre act on the basketball court.

But there’s a serious side of the story that has nothing to do with basketball.

It’s about a man who battles bipolar disorder and struggled to emotionally deal with the recent death of his grandmother.

“Already … i dig ya … but G’s cry too,” West tweeted in the wee hours of Friday morning, the day the rest of his family gathered for his grandmother’s funeral.

That was hours after the Mavs’ victory over Golden State, a game in which West played poorly and picked up a technical foul for arguing with officials in the first half. He bounced back with 21- and 20-point performances in the Mavs’ next two games, but West acknowledges that it was a tough road trip from an emotional standpoint, which was the root of his regrettable incident.

“That’s something that me and coach (Rick) Carlisle talked about, just trying to find things that trigger and jump into other things,” West said. “That type of situation that happened, I think that might have (been) a trigger point that took me from one extreme of happiness to more of a depressed state. I reacted with anger and kind of exploded a little bit.”

The conversation with Carlisle helped get West, who takes medication to help control his condition, back on an even keel.

As much as he wishes he could have said goodbye to his grandmother, West has no regrets about his decision to remain with the Mavs on the road trip while the team fought for playoff position. He said that choice was “not hard at all” because it’s what his grandmother would have wanted him to do.

“I was just thinking about what my grandma would tell me,” West said. “She'd tell me, 'Don't cry; give me my roses when I'm alive.' You know what I mean? She's in a better place, a place we all trying to get to. So she'd be disappointed if I was running around here pouting with my face poked out. … I know she'd tell me to get my butt back on that basketball court, so it was an easy decision.”

Easy decision during an extremely difficult time. That’s no laughing matter.