David West was the leader in the locker room and on the floor for the Indiana Pacers. West sometimes got a little less media attention than Paul George, Roy Hibbert or earblower Lance Stephenson, but he always got plenty of attention from opposing coaches. Not long ago, when the Pacers looked like a team that would follow NBA tradition and pay its dues in a few Conference Finals losses and then rise to the top — West was the best all-around player on the Pacers team, despite George’s outsize talent.
Larry Bird acknowledged as much in his post-free-agency press conference in July. Asked how much of what the Pacers did in the off-season was based on West’s decision to take a pay cut and chase a championship with the Spurs, Bird replied: Everything. “Everything we did this summer was because of [West’s] decision,” Bird said. Bird also acknowledged that West was the leader in the Pacers’ locker room.