After David West officially joined the Indiana Pacers prior to the season, it was obvious he brought with him a veteran presence that was desperately needed in the locker. Although his efficient use of words made it seem like he would lead more through his actions both on the court and off.
But after the Pacers late-game meltdown in Sacramento, West efficiently used his words to let his team and coaches know what happened in the loss to the Kings wasn't acceptable and shouldn't be tolerated by anyone thinking about having a memorable season.
As Sam Amick reported, West was not happy with the late-game lineups that had him on the bench at crunch time and let his feelings be know during and after the game.
"We had some lineups we're not used to playing with, and that cost us some buckets on the offensive end," said West, who signed a two-year, $20 million deal before the season. "They were comfortable and knew what they were doing with their lineups and they were able to close the game. ... Late in the game you always want to be on the floor and feel like you can help."
Nothing David West has done or said this season would suggest that the forward's frustration was simply about him not getting his late in the game. The frustration was with not playing winning basketball and trying to hold others accountable for not playing winning basketball.
I guarantee Frank Vogel welcomed West's words to help rattle his team's cage and again drive home the point that this is a different season with different expectations.
Having a player like West around to deliver that message is a beautiful thing and something that has been missing in the Pacers' quest to establish a new culture over the past couple of years. Now they would still be cheap words if West didn't back it up with actions, but in the next game out against Golden State, he was engaged and assertive from the opening tip.
On the Pacers first possession, West popped out and knocked down a 17-footer. The next time down the floor he aggressively set up deep post position, then drew the defense with a strong move and passed to Roy Hibbert for a wide open 15-footer. Hibbert missed the shot but West had established the tone for the game and for others to follow.
So West ruffled some feathers after the messy finish in Sacramento then came right back to pitch in 18 points and 7 rebounds for a big road win. A few teammates played more prominent roles in the win over Golden State, which again is what West is striving for, as opposed to the points and rebounds in his box score line. West understands winning and wants to win even if it requires some tough love.
Danny Granger has never taken losing well and can show his level of frustration with what is going on as well as anyone, but he's never been one to hold others accountable or demand better from everyone involved. Granger was probably following the lead of former veterans Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy who seemed to shake their heads in frustration but never seemed to make the effort to lead.
I recall a radio interview with Dunleavy when he was asked about possibly holding a players only meeting in the midst of a losing streak to try to turn things around. Dunleavy dismissed the suggestion essentially saying that the players are pros and they know what needs to be done, it is just a matter of executing and getting it done.
That's all well and good, but despite the paychecks NBA teams still require being on the same page and striving together to create something that performs better than the various individual talents. Resigning to your fate when things aren't going well instead of spilling guts for 48 minutes can become a nasty habit over time is not addressed. There are times when someone other than the coaches have to stand up and make those demands to stay on the grind.
David West appears to be that guy for the Pacers and he will have everyone in his corner by not only demanding better play from his team but showing his team how to do it on the court.