Thursday, September 24, 2009

Packing heat: No, Delonte, no ...

Cavaliers star Delonte West, a guitar case strapped to his back, was riding a Can-Am Spyder motorcycle on the Capital Beltway last Thursday when cops in Prince George County, Md., pulled him over for speeding.

No surprise here that a pro athlete was traveling in the fast lane. Athletes tend to be thrill-seekers, often living their lives on the edge. And what is more thrilling than cruising the roadway with the wind at your back, weaving in and out of traffic with a panoramic view everywhere?

Had speeding been all West did wrong, he wouldn’t have found himself wearing a pair of handcuffs. Speeding alone might have gotten him a stern warning, and he could have been on his way home.

But cops would issue West no warning; nor would cops send him anywhere except to jail. On looking inside his guitar case, they didn’t find a Fender Stratocaster; they found a loaded Remington 870 shotgun.

Carrying a guitar case with a shotgun inside isn’t the smartest thing to be traveling the roads with. The shotgun had to leave cops wondering to themselves what was West up to. They had even more questions that needed answers when they patted him down.

Along with the shotgun, cops found West packing two loaded handguns: a Beretta 9mm and a Ruger .357 magnum.

A motorcyclist who drives around with a shotgun and two powerful handguns earns himself a go-directly-to-jail card. He can be Delonte West or Jerry West or Mae West or the Wicked Witch of the West, and the cops are going to be taking whoever is on the motorcycle somewhere that has iron bars for a door.

For the public's good, cops know they have plenty of questions to ask. The first one is this: What was a cyclist doing riding around with loaded guns?

The possibilities run wild, though the answer itself could be simple. Maybe West was going duck hunting or to a gun range or to …

Who knows the answer but the tattooed Delonte West, who was released without bail Friday morning. So far, he hasn’t said a word. Yet it’s hard to see what good he was up to with so much firepower at his disposal.

None of it made sense – then and even now. What was West thinking? Had he lost his mind?

Expecting a pro athlete to use common sense is a recipe for disappointment, because common sense often proves a scarce commodity in men whose net worth comes with plenty of zeros. Maybe a night or two in jail has a way of helping them sort through such foolishness.

Maryland statutes outlaw carrying loaded guns and concealed weapons, and the punishment for running afoul of these laws could be serious jail time. None of this sounds like good news for the 26-year-old West, who might have reasons for this craziness.

He has admitted to having emotional problems. A year ago, he sought treatment for depression, and West had attended therapy sessions. But no one should rush to think the unthinkable in this case.

Still, his odd behavior raises questions – about the troubled West and about the pressures fame and fortune can saddle an NBA star with. They can steer him into doing strange things, such as driving the public roadways armed like a one-man militia.

(Photo of Delonte West by Real Cavs Fan)


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