"You never know. You never know,'' West said. "But I'm happy I found basketball.''
He touched on other subjects:
On his West Virginia roots: "I've always been very proud that I was born and raised here in West Virginia. A lot of things I've learned in life were very humbling. I think humility is a word that people should try to understand more fully, and particularly how important it is to remain humble."
On his heyday as a golfer following his retirement as an NBA player: "For three years, all I did was play golf. At one time I was a plus-3 handicap. I could hit golf balls all day when I was younger. But I knew I wasn't going to get better at that point in my life. I was tired of being a bum, so I went back to work and had a different life at something I knew best.''
On the frequency of his play these days: "I hit balls almost every day. I chip and putt, but I don't play [rounds] that much. I really don't. If I play once a week, that would be a lot. I can shoot a good round. But I haven't been playing that much. I've been traveling a lot.''
On John Wooden, the late college basketball coaching great: "He was more than a basketball coach. He was a life teacher. He was one of the most remarkable men ever. He was one of the wisest men I've ever been around. Somebody once said to me: 'Would you rather be around someone wise or smart?' I said, 'Well, I don't think you can be wise unless you're smart,' and he was one of the smartest guys I've ever been around. Some of the things he said and his memory were just amazing to me. It was really a pleasure for me to know him and know him intimately. And to watch how his life changed after he stopped coaching. People gathered around him. His life transcended his basketball career, and he might have contributed as much outside of the game as he did in the game, but he will always be remembered for all the championships he won.''
On Justice: "He's a remarkable man. Every once in a while, I tell him, 'You're crazy.' But he has a vision, and he knows what he wants to do with this place. It's really thrilling to be around that 18th hole. It's sort of an amphitheater, and I think the people from West Virginia ought to thank goodness that there's a man like this in the state. He cares so much, and he's cared a lot for a long time. He doesn't let anyone know about it. I told him he's becoming a rock star. He can't hide from anybody.''
On the Prime 44 West steakhouse at The Greenbrier, which West said was first envisioned by Justice: "It was his idea," West said, smiling broadly. "It's very humbling when somebody wants to kind of build a shrine to you."
On Gov. Joe Manchin: "I enjoy being around him. He's been a great governor of West Virginia. And I'm happy that we're friends. We communicate every once in a while. I'm excited for him to see if he can be a new senator here. I hope that happens.''
Reach Mike Whiteford at 304-348-7948 or mikewhitef...@wvgazette.com. Andrew Clevenger contributed to this story.