PORTLAND – Mario West, the Maine Red Claws’ most recognizable player, was waived for personal reasons Wednesday.

West, 26, asked to be waived so he can go home to Atlanta to take care of a sick family member.

The team, which was officially eliminated from playoff contention on Tuesday night, granted his request.

West played 53 games with Maine over the franchise’s first two years and was etched into team lore when his likeness was handed out on a bobblehead last month.

“I was trying my best to wait until the season was over,” said West. “I didn’t want to take away from the team (trying to fly back between games). This gives someone else the opportunity to play.

“And, also, family is first.

“I don’t want to seem like I’m selfish. You are kind of stuck in a hard place, and hope the team and organization understands.

“Beyond basketball, you only play this game for so long. I would hate to look back and say, ‘Man, I wish I would’ve been there for my family.’ “

The Red Claws will retain the rights to West if he returns to the NBA Development League next year.

He could, however, play in Europe or another league.

West, a former Georgia Tech walk-on, has played in 156 NBA games with the Atlanta Hawks.

“It’s too early to decide. I don’t know what’s next for me,” West said. “That’s not even really a thought process right now.”

West was the first member of the Red Claws to earn an NBA job when the Hawks signed him in the middle of the 2009-10 season. He finished that season with Atlanta.

West, best know for his ability to slash to the rim and find open shots, returned to the Red Claws this season and was a veteran presence in a young lineup.

He registered his first career triple-double in a 117-94 win on March 13 against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, with 27 points, 10 assists, and 10 rebounds.

In his 53 games with Maine, West has averaged 13.7 points and 3.1 assists.

General Manager Jon Jennings was unavailable for comment.

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at:

jmenendez@pressherald.com