Boom (Shakalaka)

Nick Baker

It was around 10 p.m. on a Thursday, and a Prince George’s County, Md., police officer was cruising Interstate 495 under the night sky.

Meanwhile, Cleveland Cavaliers guard Delonte West was roaring down the same highway, which runs close to his offseason home in Brandywine, Md., on a 2009 Can-Am Spyder, a slick, three-wheeled motorcycle capable of going from 0 to 60 in 4.5 seconds. A guitar case is strapped to his back.

West sharply changed lanes on his three-wheeled monster, which, judging from the consumer reports on the Can-Am Spyder, is rather dangerous because of its two wheels in the front and one in the back design.

As he switched lanes, the officer, who was coming up quickly in the lane opposite West, found himself suddenly staring at the taillights of West’s bike (trike?).

The officer flipped on the lights and pulled West over. As the officer approached, West coolly informed him that he had a gun in his waistband: a loaded and concealed (and apparently unlicensed) 9mm Beretta.

When backup arrived, police found another handgun, a Ruger .357, strapped to his leg, and, a la “Desperado,” a Remington 870 shotgun in the guitar case, both of which also appeared to be unlicensed.

I’ll stick to the point and not comment on how badass this must have looked.

Delonte West has been open about the fact that he has bipolar disorder and experiences drastic mood swings and mood changes and that he has felt some of his most intense depths of depression when his life seemed to otherwise be in good order.

Whether this means anything or not is to be seen, as police have not said why West was armed as he was or what his intent was.

Delonte West is also the most entertaining (off-court) professional sports figure I have ever seen. His comedic attitude, unwavering swagger and smooth drawl with which he delivers every word he says (at least on camera) make him an entertainer, a character even.

He has a youth organization in Cleveland called Redz Kids and regularly ventures into the community and has been an outstanding resident of the city since he arrived in 2008.

He was such a comical figure, ESPN’s Jim Rome, host of “Jim Rome is Burning,” said West’s feature on the “Correspondent” segment was “the greatest Correspondent piece in the history of this show.”

Get on YouTube at your earliest convenience and check out West as he strolls onto the Cleveland Clinic practice courts, fried chicken “sprinkled with hot sauce” in one hand and Tahitian Treat fruit punch in the other as he asks, “How player is that?”

Rome, as a true honky, responds, “The most player thing ever, Delonte.”

Rome later commented on West’s “hazing” of then-rookie J.J. Hickson for not having his Krispy Kreme doughnuts, saying, “I like that, Delonte schooling the kid on how to conduct himself like a professional. How player is that?”

Well, being a rookie and forgetting to bring Delonte West his Krispy Kremes may be a sign of unprofessionalism. But so is tearing down the highway strapped to the boots.

And it makes you wonder why professional athletes continue to act so damn unprofessional.

In the last year we have had New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress shoot himself in the leg with an illegal weapon, New Orleans Hornets guard Rasual Butler get arrested for unlicensed concealed firearms in Florida and Buffalo Bills running back Marshawn Lynch having a gun found in his car after police smelled weed.

For what reason these individuals feel the need to carry weapons, I cannot say. Some professional athletes have commented on these recent events saying they feel a need, as celebrities, for extra protection.

Hire bodyguards. And tell them to get their weapons licensed or get permits or do whatever it is you need to do.

I’m just hoping, as a desperate Cavaliers fan, that the NBA’s lack of an NFL-style conduct policy will keep Brother Redbush on the court – even if ultimately he can’t stay out of prison.

It’s too bad.

Nick Baker is a senior magazine journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]