When the Pacers signed David West, two years ago, they were ecstatic. They had belief that he was the guy that would help take them to new heights, and he’s done exactly that.
West helped changed the culture in the locker room and it’s now as good as it’s been in the last decade. When at the podium with the other four starters – something they collectively decided to do after ending their second-round series with New York – West made a telling statement.
"This is the most together group I've ever been a part of,” he said, “We don't have a bunch of ‘I’ guys, we have a bunch of ‘We’ guys."
That says it all, and he’s a big reason why the team is like that. The two-time All-Star is the oldest member on the Pacers’ roster, so he adds a mix of maturity, experience, and talent. He out-thinks and out-works opponents with a touch of finesse around the hoop. He often times has the advantage at the power forward position and will exploit it in whatever ways he can – be it pounding the ball on the block, taking jump shots from 15-feet or getting to the foul line, where he and George Hill lead the team in the postseason (shooting 83 percent). His pick-and-roll game with Hill is also very strong.
West, 32, came to the Pacers after eight seasons with the New Orleans Pelicans (then called the Hornets). When media really wants to understand the team and what’s going on, we go to West because of his experience and honesty outlook. There’s no doubt, he’s the Pacers No. 1 priority this offseason and team officials are planning to be on his doorstep on July 1 to make an offer to the soon-to-be free agent.
West and his wife, Lesley, do an incredible job of giving back. The two hosted the Pacers’ annual “Come To Our House” Thanksgiving dinner for folks from local missions and shelters. A couple times of year, West visits local juvenile facilities to provide them with a positive and motivating message. As high schools wind down and prom popped up for high school students around the state, Lesley gave away prom dresses and other night essentials for 500 girls in IPS schools. They’re truly a model family.
David West’s interest in basketball began when he was in high school. He kept after it, and attended the well-known Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia. College coaches took notice and he went on to be a four-year starter at Xavier University. He was named the AP National Player of the Year in 2003, graduated, and was taken 18th overall by New Orleans.
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The Pacers got their guy in 2011 and West, the backbone of this team, has helped them make incredible strides.
Get to know the other four members of the Pacers starting five below: