In a very candid interview with CBS' Ken Berger, Delonte West opened up about his bipolar disorder… shedding light on what its like to be a pro athlete dealing with a very difficult condition that wreaks havoc on your emotions:
"When you're thinking about, 'Am I going to go to jail after the season?' and going through a tough divorce during the season, those things can weigh on you sometimes," West said. "When you're a professional athlete, you've got to be a robot sometimes. You've got to check your emotions at the door. But we're humans. You can't say, 'OK, I'm not going to think about this,' when it's something to really think about. … When things are up in the air and all people can say to you, the courts and the lawyers, is, 'You've got to wait and see,' there's a lot of nights when you're not sleeping."
This might be the hardest things for fans to really understand. Players are people. We often don't see them as such. They're practically video game characters. They only exist on our TV screens. When someone like Delonte has a serious problem, we dismissively blurt out "this guy's a mess… we can't trust him. Let's just get rid of him and move on."
I'm guilty of it. I've destroyed Ron Artest every chance I got. I keep talking about when the crazy train will derail in Los Angeles and ruin the Lakers chances at another title.
But he's a person too… with legit problems that needed legit help. Delonte's no different. He's a human being that drives home after work, sits on his couch, and maybe complains to someone about his day. The difference between him and us is that his job is NBA player, and yours isn't.
Delonte is getting another chance to get his life together. He's got amazing physical gifts that allow him to make a lot of money playing a game. Mentally, his bipolar disorder might mean he's always going to be a work in progress.
I, for one, am happy that he's getting his second chance in Boston. I think it's the right place, at the right time. I'll be rooting for Delonte on…and off the court.