Mark West isn't the type of center that stats, advanced or otherwise, are particularly kind to. They're not mean to him either. His career best season averages were 11.8 points per game, 8.9 rebounds per game, and 2.3 blocks per game. Hardly the kind of numbers that beget a "franchise center" tag, no matter how desperate the franchise in question.
And yet... there he was, manning the paint for the Phoenix Suns from 1988 to 1994. You may recognize that time frame as one the most celebrated in Suns' history. He was acquired by Phoenix in the same trade that sent Larry Nance to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Kevin Johnson, Tyrone Corbin, and the first round pick that eventually became Dan Majerle.
You're probably far more familiar with the rest of the players that, along with West, formed the nucleus of late 80s/early 90s Phoenix Suns: the aforementioned KJ and Dan Majerle, Jeff Hornacek, Tom Chambers, Charles Barkley, Cedric Ceballos, and Eddie Johnson. It makes sense. Those guys are Hall of Famers, Ring of Honor inductees, and dudes whose brand of basketball was a little bit flashier or prone to big nights than Mark West's.
And yet... from 1988 to 1994, he was the only one of those players who played in every single game for the Phoenix Suns. 521 consecutive regular season games. There's a stat that's very kind to Mr. West. That kind of durability and consistency is rare in any league, but especially in the 82 game grind that defines the NBA season. And West displayed that consistency in the Golden Age of the NBA Center.
From 1988-1990, West averaged nearly a double-double despite playing only 25-29 minutes per game as the primary muscle in the Suns run-n-gun lineups around KJ, Horny, Thunder and Tom Chambers.
Here's who West was going up against on a nightly basis: Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, Brad Daugherty, David Robinson, Dikembe Mutombo, Robert Parish, Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, Mark Eaton, Kevin Duckworth, Shaquille O'Neal, Vlade Divac and Alonzo Mourning. Again, you probably know most of those names. Some of them are Hall of Famers, all of them are All-Stars.
And yet... there's 6'10" Mark West, banging, battling and holding his own with all of them as the stalwart center of one of the winningest franchises of the era. It was KJ, Majerle, Chambers and Barkley who got the highlights, the All-Star bids and MVPs. Meanwhile, Mark West got the bruises, the blocks and the boards that made those highlights possible.
I won't try and redefine the term "franchise center" just so I can shoehorn Mark West into it. Nobody in their right mind builds a team around a player like him. But I'm very glad the Phoenix Suns had the wisdom to build a couple different teams with him.
We'd love to show you a long highlight reel, but unfortunately highlight reels of Mark West are as real as the gold at the end of a rainbow.
Here's a 17 second dunk mix.
These days, Mark West spends his time representing the Suns in the community and working with bigs on the side. He still looks like he could dunk on someone in a live game, by the way.