Sure the Pacers have to play the Cleveland Cavaliers in Ohio on Wednesday night, but the Blue and Gold should find a friendly welcome and may hear as many cheers as the Cavs. In fact, LeBron James may not even hear the loudest ovation and not just because of the metro rivalry between Cleveland and Cincy (as Sam Wyche captured in spectacular fashion).
The goodwill aimed toward the Pacers will all be the result of David West, former Xavier Muskateer returning to his alma mater at the Cintas Center as a veteran pro and a source of pride for a college basketball program whose profile West helped raise while earning the 2003 AP College Basketball Player of the Year award.
The feeling will be mutual, as Mark Montieth captured with this story on West, who feels he benefited just as much from his time on and off the court at Xavier as XU did from his presence on the basketball team. That helps explain how West has been such a pro's pro throughout his career.
It's that mature outlook on the game that has West currently unable to sugarcoat the current state of the Pacers with Paul George out for the season. While being asked about getting a look at LeBron with the Cavs (via Pacers.com video), West discussed how LeBron has a lot of weapons which makes his team one of the favorites for a championship. You know, just in case we were picking up the rivalry with LeBron-led teams where we left off last season.
The slightly bemused look on West's face as he talked about the Pacers still tinkering with lineups, needing to play better defense and be a confident shot-taking team said plenty. Actually, that look screamed, WE'RE NOT IN CLEVELAND'S LEAGUE RIGHT NOW!
But thanks for asking.
Oh, and speaking of LeBron, he will obviously be the spotlight performer at the Cintas Center and he should be ready to play. James sat out the Cavs' win at home over Milwaukee on Tuesday night to avoid the back-to-back so he will be able to give the folks in Cincy a little show.
Here are a few links: