Delonte West has not had an easy 2010-11.
Signed by the Celtics in his second go-round with the team that drafted him, West was added to provide depth to a Boston backcourt that sometimes has issues with age and athleticism (in Ray Allen), or mitigating factors in the shooting department (in Rajon Rondo). West's hybrid skills seemed like a perfect fit, but he also battled a wrist injury all season and only played in 24 of 82 games.
The playoffs have been worse. West rebounded in Game 2 of his team's series with Miami to hit all four of his shots from the floor, but he was shooting 30 percent from the floor entering that contest, and his decision-making has been questioned.
Luckily for West, he has a burgeoning outside interest that goes beyond spitting hot fire (both in terms of rapping flow, and the breath you get after eating hot sauce-laden fast food) in the drive-thru (NSFW).
In a very good feature from Jessica Camerato at CSNNE.com, West details his love of sketching, an obsession that grew from his time spent doodling as a high school student thanks to the praise of a patient and understanding English teacher.
"On the court has always been my escape from dealing with life and reality. I think I use basketball for that," he told CSNNE.com. "Art, I use it as therapy for myself. Just dealing with being bipolar, my life, things like that just allow you to relax and just get away, let your mind just create. I've had my own coping mechanisms my entire life dealing with that."
Yes, Delonte is the same player who was pulled over two years ago with a litany of firearms and ammunition on his person, and he's spoken openly about his struggles coping with his bi-polar diagnosis. But he's kept his chin up through a few rough years, and you can't help but assume that his side interests have played a part in that.
Luckily for West, the Celtics employ perhaps the most famous NBA hoopster-turned-artist in Hall of Famer Tom Heinsohn, who has planned an offseason get-together to go over the finer points of charcoal work and painting happy clouds:
"He has a sincere interest, which is the real part that gets people going," Heinsohn said. "When they really get interested, that's when they make something happen. It's more than just a potential hobby with him. I think it's become serious and I think he's going to pursue it."
He added, "If he pursues it like he developed as a basketball player, which requires the discipline to do that, he'll do fine."
A well-done piece by Camerato, and well worth your time.
(Second image drawn by Delonte West, courtesy of CSNNE.com.)