Coincidentally or not, the Dallas Mavericks have lacked consistency ever since losing veteran point guard Delonte West to a finger injury in mid-February. Of course, the somewhat mysterious disappearance of Lamar Odom didn’t help. And even with Odom back from a 10-day personal leave, he’s struggled so badly that his playing time has dropped dramatically throughout the month of March. West and Odom are both talented vets who have taken heat for their personas, which is why West is a good man to go to if you’re looking for a less direct way to peel back some of Odom’s layers. Delonte West joined Ben and Skin on ESPN Radio Dallas to talk about his relationship with Odom and how he and his teammates are trying to help him out of a rut. The quirky West also elaborated on a recent trip he and Odom took to the zoo, and explained his rather unorthodox method for healing his injured finger. It should also be noted that, despite my strongest and repeated attempts, there were a few occasions in which I had no idea what West was trying to say.
On his recent experience at an event with elementary school students at the Dallas Zoo:
“Oh man, we had a blast. It was definitely an intelligent group of young men and women, and when the zookeepers were asking questions, most of them took my answers. We had a blast, me and Lamar and the kids. They were just a fun group of kids to be around. I felt like a kid being at the zoo again.”
On if there was a particular animal he felt a strong bond with:
“I’m a Leo, so I definitely had to make my way towards the lion cage. But for some reason they didn’t remember me and I quickly started to see myself as food and not as a peer, and I backed away from the cage slowly.”
On how close he is to returning from injury:
“Very close, man. I hope to try to get out there by the end of this week, make it down there for that South Beach trip. That would be (ideal) but if not, definitely the start of next week.”
On why, to help with rehab, he dips his hand into a bucket of uncooked rice:
“A lot of fighters use this technique. It’s a old tradition but those things still work. I mean, the fingers are very fragile and have a lot of tendons and little bones running through them. And you’re actually massaging the rice, you’re actually digging in there and grabbing — anything you can think about. You just kind of go with it and, you’d be surprised. You’ve never tried it — go give it a try and put it in about 10 minutes and stir and grab and reach and poke. By the time you take your hands out, your fingers feel a little more stronger. And it works. Taking karate and boxing lessons growing up, it’s a technique I’ve learned and it seems to work.”
On if, maybe just like him, Lamar Odom is misunderstood:
“We can actually relate a lot to one another because I went through a period in my career where I was dealing with some off-the-court issues and because of our talent and the jerseys that we put on, somehow we’re looked upon like Spider-man and Superman. Like, these are our uniforms but we’re just humans. We have no super powers, you know what I’m saying? And Lamar is one of those guys who’s an emotional guy and he’s what I would call a human being, a guy that knows how to play basketball.”
On how to deal with Odom while he’s struggling:
“You’ve gotta keep encouraging. You gotta keep letting guys know that you’re there for them. The fans (aren’t concerned) if you got in a car accident or anything on your way into the gym. They just want you to go out there and score 20 points and keep your mouth closed. And at the end of the day we’re all humans, man, we gotta pull together. The more we show as a team rallying around him — he’s gonna come on at the right moment. But we’re more concerned about him having the right mind state because basketball will be over one day. It’s just a sport. I know fans, they pay a lot of money to come see us play at a high level but more important than that is peace of mind. He’s someone’s son, he’s someone’s parent, he’s someone’s husband, and he’s also someone’s superhero, and all that turns into one. You can’t have one without the other.