More than two weeks have passed since the infamous locker-room altercation between Delonte West and Celtics teammate Von Wafer. But we're only now starting to see the full scope of the West-Wafer rivalry.
That's because on Saturday night, the C's played their 10th game of the young season, meaning West has completed his 10-game suspension handed down by the league office this summer after last year's weapons charges. West is now a free man, ready to rejoin the Celtics for their next game, home against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night.
One thing's clear — West's return will help the Celtics immensely. The 27-year-old guard will step in right away and act as a defender, playmaker and spot-up shooter for the team's second unit.
What's a little less obvious, though, is what it all means for Wafer.
More than likely, this is the real reason the two guards have been at each other's throats all fall. In essence, they were fighting over minutes.
There have been a lot of theories thrown out there about the teammates' animosity. Some say the fight was just the natural escalation from a couple of physical post-practice scrimmages. Things got a little too aggressive, and the two got carried away. Some say the two players' personalities just didn't jell. And one theory points to a particularly juicy anonymous quote that may have brought about the conflict.
But the simplest explanation is usually the best. And quite simply, Von Wafer wants to play basketball.
Wafer came into the fold in late July, shortly after the Celtics had worked out multi-year deals to bring back Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. After a successful stint with the Houston Rockets ending in 2009, the 25-year-old thought he had the chops to be the primary backup for the Celtics' two perimeter stars. And until West came along, that appeared to be his role.
But even though Wafer got to Boston first and lay his claim to the role, West is now the incumbent. He's got the better resume, having started on a title contender in Cleveland alongside LeBron James. And he's also got the experience in Celtic green — he was here in Boston for Doc Rivers' first three seasons as head coach, and he's picked up the system again just like riding a bike.
West has been working hard in practice every day, working to get ready for the regular season. And for him, that season starts Wednesday.
Wafer's been on message since day one: He just wants to play. Everyone's got different motives in this league — some are in it for the money, some for the rings, some for the fame. Wafer's intentions are simpler. He just wants some burn.
But it doesn't look like he'll get it. He had a 10-game audition period with West out, and his numbers during that time (4.6 minutes per game, averaging 0.6 points, 0.4 assists and 0.3 rebounds) were microscopic. Rivers didn't even give him a chance.
Witnesses have said West threw the first punch at Wafer. So he started the war, and he'll probably win it, too. West will play because he's more experienced, he'll play because he's more versatile, and he'll play because he brings a calming influence to Nate Robinson and the rest of the Celtics' second unit.
The fight's over. Regardless of the bruises and the black eyes, we're about to see who really won.
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