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Original Issue

David West


On the Hornets' best-in-the-Western-Conference record
People have talked about us closing the gap on teams like the Spurs for years. We're finally doing it. In training camp we just clicked and came together. Wherever we're seeded in the postseason, we'll be considered underdogs, but we've been underdogs all season.

On those wrist tattoos
I got them when I was in college at Xavier. One says LIVE FREE; that's pretty self-explanatory. The other says BLACK SOUL. It has to do with a dark mystery I'm associated with; I won't talk about that.

On quitting basketball in high school
When I lived in New Jersey, I had problems with my coach. I wasn't the quickest guy or the strongest guy. I could play, but because I wasn't the type you'd look at and say, "He's going to be great," my coach wrote me off. He said I couldn't do this, I couldn't do that. When you're a young kid, you get broken.

On moving to Garner, N.C., with his family before his junior year
I got to Garner High, and I had no intention of playing basketball. I was turned off by the game. But the coach saw me and said there was no way a 6'8" kid at his school was not going to play. It took a month of him getting on me. He followed me around school! He finally got me to show up at some practices, and I fell in love with the game again.

On staying to get his degree in communications at Xavier in 2003
I always struggled in school. I've had teachers who if you'd told them I would graduate college, they would have laughed. But at Xavier, I saw the opportunity I had. When I had the chance to get drafted into the NBA after my junior year, my parents said it was up to me. It was my first grown-up decision. I'm more proud of it than of anything I've done in basketball.

"Everyone expected us to fall apart this season. We stayed strong."