OAKLAND -- Death made a rude intrusion this week into the relatively blissful life of David West.
He lost a friend, one of his best friends.
When former NBA player Rasual Butler and his wife, singer Leah LaBelle, were killed in a single-vehicle accident early Wednesday morning, the volume of tributes from players and coaches around the league served as vivid illustration of Butler’s popularity.
West was walking into the Warriors facility later Wednesday morning when he heard the news from a mutual friend. He immediately left and returned to his home.
“(Wednesday) was tough,” West said Thursday after practice. “He was one of my closest friends. We played four years together in New Orleans, a year in San Antonio, a year in Indy. We were really tight. It’s just a tough tragic loss.
“He was a good dude. He and his wife were good people, very positive people.”
Butler died when the Range Rover he was driving west in Ventura Boulevard in the Studio City section of Los Angeles jumped a curb and hit several parking meters before crashing into a fence, flipping and landing in a shopping center parking lot at 2:25 a.m. Authorities cited excess speed as a factor.
Butler, who was 38, played for eight teams before retiring after the 2015-16 season.
“He was a good player, known for his work ethic, getting the most out of his talents,” Shaun Livingston said. “But above that, the type of person he was -- him and his wife, Leah -- I was fortunate enough to get a chance to meet her and get a chance to hang out around them, not on the court.”
Kevin Durant, who played against Butler for most of his career, recalled summer basketball workouts with Butler in LA.
“I was going to the Clippers facility like two weeks straight, and he would be in there every day hoopin’ with us,” Durant said. “His spirit was great. His enthusiasm about the game at that age was still kid-like. He just rubbed off on you.
“I could tell, just seeing so many posts on Instagram and Twitter from former teammates remembering him and I could tell that he was a great guy.”
West was one of those former teammates.
“He was like a sage in my ear,” West said.
At the invitation of West, Butler and his wife participated in the Warriors championship celebration last June. The three rode in the same float during the parade in Oakland.
“He was just my guy,” West said. “He was in my ear the whole Finals. He just wanted to be a part of it. I wanted him to be a part of it, so he came up and we had a good time.”
West said he would be present at the memorial service once arrangements are announced.