CLEVELAND -- Delonte West gets treated like royalty around Cleveland.
After the Cleveland Cavaliers nipped the Dallas Mavericks, 91-88, Saturday night at Quickens Loans Arena, security folks who were working here when West played for the Cavs from 2008-'10 playfully told him he couldn't come in the Cav's locker room. Then, of course, they allowed West to do whatever he wanted to do.
"The city of Cleveland is a hard working city and they're about the right things,'' West said. "These Cleveland fans are more than fans.
"They're friends, they're people in the community, people at the Home Depot and the CVS that you see every day. It's good seeing a lot of their faces still in the same seats.''
West played for the Cavs during part of the LeBron James era. While they never won an NBA title, they formed a very close bond with the community.
As the winning left when James unceremoniously left in the summer of 2010 to join the Miami Heat, West believes Cavs owner Dan Gilbert will eventually get Cleveland back in the NBA championship hunt. Especially if rookie point guard Kyrie Irving keeps making major improvements.
"They have a great owner here and they've got a great nucleus of young guys, and a great young guy in Irving, so this organization is on its way,'' West said. "I can see them being a contender in a few years from now.''
This was West's first game in Cleveland since the Cavs traded him to the Minnesota Timberwolves on July 26, 2010. West wound up making 4-of-7 shots, scoring 11 points, handing out seven assists and picking up three steals and four turnovers in 28 minutes.
"I'd say one thing for sure, the basket looked like an ocean,'' West said. "I hit all my spots that I wanted to get to on the floor.
"The biggest thing is we didn't come away with a win that we wanted to.''
And that's the biggest regret West has after returning to his old stomping grounds. Particularly since the Mavs (14-11) don't play against until Wednesday at Denver.
"I think everybody is going to check that Super Bowl out (today),'' West said. "It would be nice after a win to put our feet up and watch the game, but we've got to get back to the lab and get ready for Wednesday.''
Earlier this season West also received some special treatments in Boston, where he spent four years playing for the Celtics. Thus, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle expected more of the same for West here in Cleveland.
"I'm sure it's special because he was in a lot of postseasons here,'' Carlisle said. "I'm sure he'll have fond memories here as he did when we went back to Boston.
"Those are two places he spent the most times. He's the kind of guy that likes the challenge of coming back to a place like this.''
-- Dwain Price
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