Return to past gives West a new start


By Jessica Camerato

WALTHAM - Even after three years of chest pounds, head butts, and vocal explosions, Kevin Garnett is not the most competitive player Doc Rivers has ever coached.

That honor belongs to Delonte West.

"I don't know if I've ever coached a more competitive human being," Rivers said on Monday at Celtics Media Day. "Even with these guys, Delonte is always, he's competitive. I like that."

That competitive drive is one of the many reasons the Celtics re-signed West this summer after trading him to the SuperSonics in 2007. It is also one of the reasons why it wasn't easy to deal him in the first place. Danny Ainge says it would have been very difficult to move West had the Celtics not received a player of Ray Allen's caliber in return.

Now West and the Celtics are glad to be back on the same side again, a place where West always envisioned himself returning to.

"It feels great to be back in green and white, where I started my career," he said. "That's a great compliment, being picked up from a team that's coming off a Game Seven of the NBA Finals and got their eyes set on a championship. To be called to render my services to help this team put up another banner, that's an amazing feeling."

The Celtics believe West can bolster their bench and add versatility to their backcourt. "He plays both ends of the court, brings great defense, intensity, shooting, passing. He's a pretty complete player," Ainge said of West, who averaged 8.8 points, 3.3 assists, and 2.8 rebounds last season for the Cavaliers.

West hopes to help the C's by being selfless and sacrificing himself for the betterment of the team. He understands their "we-not-me" mentality and is on board with their championship ambitions. Even though the Celtics only won 24 games the last time West played in Boston, he has no question of their motivation this time around.

"It's definitely a different vibe in the locker room," he said. "There's a lot more maturity going on around here than last time I was here. You can just sense it in the air -- guys want to win. I walk through the locker room, everyone here has that gold trophy in their pupils."

But before West can help the Celtics in their hunt for banner 18, he will have to serve a 10-game suspension stemming from weapons charges. Rivers, who coached West for three seasons, said his problems have never been on the basketball court.

While West is focused on the upcoming season, he was questioned about the rumor of a relationship with the mother of former teammate LeBron James. "I'm just going to keep everything focused on basketball, but I come from an era where you don't even say nothing bad about someone's parent," he responded, before moving on to talk about basketball.

West isn't going to look back as he prepares for his future with the Celtics. Taking Rivers' compliment to heart, he looks forward to getting a new start on the team where he began his career.

"It's good to get him back," said Ainge. "I think he's like a perfect fit for what we need."

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comjcamerato

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