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West sacrificing numbers for chance to learn and win

Veteran David West gave up a lot of money and impressive stats to play for the Spurs and he's never been happier

POSTED: Mar 19, 2016 1:21 PM ET

By Fran Blinebury

BY Fran Blinebury

NBA.com

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David West averaged 16 points a game from 2005-2015, but is averaging 7 points a game this season.

— When the white-hot Warriors and splendid Spurs collide Saturday at the AT&T Center, perhaps all that will be missing is a catwalk for the NBA's two model teams.

Every athlete pays a price to be a part of this kind of atmosphere in this kind of game. Blood, sweat and tears. Hours, nights and years.

David West paid with cash.

The grounded, reliable veteran certainly couldn't have envisioned that he'd be part of such electric fanfare and hoopla amidst two clubs both still chasing 70 wins.

But West's experience this season inside their Spurs locker room and their pursuit of a sixth championship in franchise history is exactly why the power forward gave up a guaranteed $12.6 million with the Pacers to play in San Antonio for the veteran's minimum of $1.49 million.

Was the $11-million decision worth it?

"Probably more," West says with a grin.

West came here not to pursue records so much as an attitude and a sense of satisfaction. After 12 seasons of toiling diligently and effectively among a variety of different teammates, he wanted a 13th that could deliver a similar mindset and professional satisfaction. He wanted to win, for sure. But he also wanted to grow and learn in an organization that never stops growing and learning and he wanted the discipline that comes from a roster full of players that think and act just like he does.

"It's been everything that I expected and hoped it would be," West said. "It's a great experience being around the knowledge and legendary information that these guys have. It's great to walk in and see Tim Duncan every day and talk to him. You've got four guys with Hall of Fame talent here. It's really been a great experience. My family's enjoying it. I have no complaints."

Neither do the Spurs.

There is a constant information flow that comes from everyone, and everybody is chugging in the same direction. Nobody is pulling off to the left or right, with personal stuff and egos and things like that.

– Spurs forward David West

From the concentration he brings to each trip up and down the practice floor to the hard edge he brings to every game, West has delivered the professionalism and the worldly experience they wanted. At 35, West is only the fifth-oldest player on the Spurs roster, yet his game and approach are wise beyond his many years in the league.

He is averaging the second-fewest minutes (17.5) of his NBA career and scoring less (7.0) than anytime since 2004-05. He has scored in double figures just 16 times all season. Yet West has been valuable for his ability to mesh with the program and rise to occasions.

A week ago in a high profile showdown against the Thunder, the Spurs trailed by seven points with a little more than five minutes left in the third quarter. Tony Parker and Danny Green were struggling to find their offense to that point neither of them had made a single basket when the veteran forward checked into the game.

It was a familiar sight to West. The first time he wore a Spurs jersey for regular season game was in a loss at Oklahoma City back on opening night.

But so much has changed since then as West has settled in to his role and the Spurs have churned out a perfect 34-0 record at home that has kept them chasing only the other-worldly Steph Curry and the defending champion Warriors.

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Stephen Curry leads the Golden Stater Warriors into San Antonio to face Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs.

This time when the fourth quarter began, West began to assert himself. He knocked down a pair of his specialty mid-range jumpers, then attacked the bucket for a tip-in that tied the game. He would not score again after his solo 6-0 run, but West kept right on blocking shots, blocking out, rebounding and defending as the Spurs secured the win.

"We have a team full of coaches," he said. "There is a constant information flow that comes from everyone, and everybody is chugging in the same direction. Nobody is pulling off to the left or right, with personal stuff and egos and things like that."

He had heard the stories over the years about how the Spurs do this and the Spurs do that and how it's the perfect place to play basketball. Now he's living and believing the experience.

"Every moment, every play means something," West said. "That's what I wanted. Every game, every possession means the world to us.

"There's an ideology that exists here. You just trust it."

Enough to pay the price that David West did for admission to the epic Warriors-Spurs showdown. In cash.

Fran Blinebury has covered the NBA since 1977. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

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