Did Josh Hart really force David West to retire? Yes and no


Josh Hart is a nice player, capable of making an impact on the new and improved Lakers. It’s too generous, however, to credit him as the man who drove David West into retirement.

In that regard, Hart had a lot of allies -- none sending West a more apocalyptic message than 76ers big man Joel Embiid.

“He wasn’t the only guy,” West, speaking on the Warriors Insider Podcast, said of Hart.

The narrative surrounding Hart was pushed partly by West himself, who earlier this month tweeted upon recalling a Warriors-Lakers game last season in which he switched out onto Hart and couldn’t keep the young guard from getting to his spot. West is 6-foot-9, 260 pounds; Hart is 6-5, 215.

On a particular play, West was trying to get low enough to maintain leverage, but his body would not comply. The necessary bend wasn’t there.

“After a couple plays,” West recalled, “I said to myself, ‘Dude, you’re tripping. You’re tripping. You need to sit your ass down somewhere.’ ”

So a few months later, West sat down for good. He announced his retirement on Aug. 30, one day after his 38th birthday and 12 weeks after earning his second championship ring with the Warriors.

“I took a month. Took another month. The desire to prepare just didn’t come,” he said. “When that didn’t come, I knew it was time.”

The preparation became too much, too hard, and it didn’t always pay off. West recalled his rookie season, when the veteran power forward P.J. Brown would point out situations that should tell a player it’s time to walk away.

“Sometimes it happens in a game,” West said. “Sometimes it happens when you’re stretching or before a game or in practice or you wake up the next day and you can’t move.

“All of those things force you to evaluate whether you should keep playing. It wasn’t Josh Hart, specifically, but it was plays like that that happen over the course of your last few years that, when you come to a head, and there are multiple plays, you can’t run the risk of this becoming and every night occurrence.”

West spoke of challenges posed by a number of young NBA players, including 76ers forward Ben Simmons, a budding superstar, and Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein, an agile but second-tier big man. Embiid was another matter altogether.

“When I got a chance to play against Embiid for the first time,” West recalled, “I was like, ‘Yo, it’s time to go, D. You have no business being out here with somebody that can do things like he does at this stage of your life.’”

There may come a time when West returns to the NBA in some capacity. For now, he spends most of his time in North Carolina, where he helps coach a local youth team. And, of course, he remains active in the various geopolitical issues facing the world.

West will be in the Bay Area this week. There is a ring ceremony to attend. And he played a fairly significant role, on and off the court, in pushing the Warriors to the top.

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