We waited Saturday night for Delonte West after the Cavaliers had beaten the Bobcats, 90-79, at The Q. The game was West's first of the season, and his thoughts on his performance were of interest to anybody who follows the Cavs -- fans and writers.
For more than a month, no player in Wine and Gold has been as intriguing to both of these parties as West. On a team with LeBron James and Shaquille O'Neal, it's not a situation West, a talented but emotionally-fragile guard, and the other Cavaliers will find themselves in too often.
But West was of interest because he had been absent with personal problems. His mental instability worried people. Nobody knew what to make of his circumstances -- whether to be critical of this gifted athlete or sympathetic of him.
What everybody did know, however, was that the Cavaliers did miss him.
As much as LeBron and Shaq matter -- and they matter most -- West might be the most important complement to this team's two megastars. He's the team's best shooting guard and its most dependable backup point guard. West is also its best defender not named LeBron James.
West can score, and he has the kind of boundless energy not found in most NBA players.
Yet, in some people's minds, he's a lit powder keg, which was the reason his return to the Cavs lineup drew so much attention. The team hadn't functioned well in West's absence.
"Missing piece," point guard Mo Williams said of West. "It felt good to have the whole team back."
LeBron and Shaq echoed those sentiments. They offered only compliments for their returning teammate, and their kind words were deserved. For the first time this season, the Cavs looked like a team with championship intentions.
Now, they were only playing the Bobcats, a sorry lot of an NBA team. Still, an elite team like the Cavs has to beat the bad teams, too. A win is a win, no matter the opponent.
Having West a part of this win was significant, and knowing he might be back for the long haul was even more important to the Cavaliers. They will need him -- back physically as well as emotionally.
For they won't always be playing a team like Charlotte. They have tougher teams ahead, starting Tuesday night when the Cavs play the Wizard.
It might be then when West's presence will be most needed. It might be then when we can hear what he has to say about being back in uniform and playing the sport that has made him rich.
We want to hear from West himself that's he all right.
I'm a former journalism professor at Ohio University, and I still enjoy teaching, although I don't do it anymore in a formal classroom. I have long felt that teaching is the most noble -- or selfless -- thing a person can do, which is why I value it so highly. But I'm also a sportswriter, which I enjoy doing nearly as much as I enjoy teaching. ... Justice B. Hill