If it was possible to look up David West's name in a mythical dictionary of all things Indiana Pacers, this is likely how it would forever be anthologized:
West, David: (verb) to make stable or steadfast. (noun) strength of character. (noun) a person who can be relied on for support.
Synonymous with the terms stabilizer, anchor, and backbone, West's addition provided the young Pacers with veteran leadership and instant accountability. From searching for a post-Brawl identity while mired in mediocrity to contending for a title as one of the league's last remaining ground and pound teams, the stocky power forward's fingerprints are impossible to ignore when looking back at the franchise's upward trajectory.
As Paul George navigated becoming a star, Bird's 2011 free agency prize was a constant presence and guiding hand. When Roy Hibbert suffered from a series of crises of confidence, West was a motivational coach. And when Lance Stephenson's unbridled passion needed to be harnessed, the elder statesmen attempted to be the voice of reason. With so many roles to play, the hulking power forward with the near-permanent scowl should most be remembered for his willingness to provide his team with whatever they needed, whenever they needed it.
With that in mind, here are three signature performances which best epitomize exactly who No. 21 was as a member of the Indiana Pacers.
January 12, 2013: West records his first-career triple-double, as Pacers defeat Charlotte Bobcats, 96-88.
With Paul George sidelined with the flu, the Indiana Pacers missed their first 11 shots from the field against the 9-27 Charlotte Bobcats. Then the Blue & Gold started to effectively play inside-out, with David West slinging passes to open 3-point shooters from the block and threading the needle to cutting wings from the high post. West scored or assisted on 39 of Indiana's 96 total points. Committing a team-high four turnovers while dishing 10 assists, West was not himself that night. Rather, he became what his team was most lacking in the absence of Danny Granger and Paul George: A reliable source of offense. Recording 14 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists, West notched his first-career triple-double in the unfamiliar role of point forward.
March 14, 2014: West drains game-clinching 3-pointer (wait, what?) against Miami Heat
The score was 76-72 in favor of the Pacers before the Heat went on an 8-0 run in the fourth quarter following Lance Stephenson's ejection. Roy Hibbert made a free throw and Evan Turner connected on back-to-back layups to give Indiana a not-so-comfy one point, 81-80, cushion. LeBron's open pull-up shot from behind the arc came up empty, and the Pacers took a timeout with the opportunity to make it a two-possession game with a made three pointer...you know...probably from Paul George or George Hill.
Instead, with under a minute to play, this happened.
Knocking down one of only four threes he made during the entire 2013-14 season, West's timing on this one couldn't have been better. Following the game, head coach Frank Vogel said in jest with regard to this play, via NBA.com, "'Throw it to David [West], he's going to step up and hit a big shot.' I didn't even use the board."
May 1, 2014: West comes to the rescue in Game 6 against the Atlanta Hawks
On the brink of elimination in the first-round of the 2014 NBA playoffs, the top seed in the Eastern Conference trailed the eighth-seeded Atlanta Hawks by three at the end of the third quarter. West had only shot 5-of-14 from the field headed into the final frame, before he proceeded to pour in 12 fourth-quarter points while he and Paul George combined to carry the full weight of the Indiana Pacers on their backs. "I talked with Paul and said that it would be him or me. Down the stretch. We wanted to extend our season," West told the Indy Star's Candace Buckner.
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This is not to say that the veteran leader was not without his faults. He wore his frustration with Indiana's fall from elite status on his sleeve last season, and, contrary to revisionist history, he did more than his fair share of complaining to officials about perceived slights and missed calls.
And yet, time after time, his play made it clear that he would do what it took to win. Whether it meant becoming a facilitator in Charlotte, a clutch shooter in the waning seconds against Miami, or the team's rock against Atlanta, David West was there to provide whatever the Pacers requested of him. Perhaps the weight of having to wear so many different hats contributed to why he left, but his ability to do so best surmises why Indiana thrived while he, the team's security blanket, was here.