HomeNewsLakers legend Jerry West dies at age 86

Lakers legend Jerry West dies at age 86

While playing with the Los Angeles Lakers, West was the 3rd player in NBA history to score 25,000 points, was named to the All-Star team each year, and helped the team reach the Finals 9 times, including 1971–72 when they won the championship

The Los Angeles Clippers confirmed Wednesday morning that Jerry West, 86, has passed away. West was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame 3 times throughout his legendary career as a player and administrator, and his likeness is often used as the inspiration for the NBA logo.

In 1969, the first year of the NBA Finals MVP award—which remains the only instance in which it was bestowed to a player on a losing squad—he was also named to the All-NBA team 12 times, and he was a member of the league’s 75th anniversary squad.

Elgin Baylor, whom West said to be “the most supportive and the greatest player of that era,” and Wilt Chamberlain were teammates of West’s throughout his basketball career, which spanned decades. As a coach and executive, he worked with a who’s who of NBA players over the last 4 decades, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George.

“Jerry West was a basketball genius and a defining figure in our league for more than 60 years,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in his statement. “He distinguished himself not only as an NBA champion and an All-Star in all 14 of his playing seasons but also as a consummate competitor who embraced the biggest moments.”

“I appreciated my connection with Jerry and the basketball and life advice he offered to me throughout the years. On behalf of the NBA, we extend our heartfelt sympathies to Jerry’s wife, Karen, his family, and his many NBA friends.

On Wednesday night, in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, the Boston Celtics will face off against the Dallas Mavericks. The NBA is organizing a pregame homage to West.  West was “the personification of basketball excellence and a friend to all who knew him,” according to the Clippers, who added that Karen West was by his side at the time of his death.

Following his playing career, West had major success as an NBA administrator, constructing the Showtime Lakers of the 1980s, who won 5 championships in that decade, and directing the emergence of the O’Neal-Bryant duo. West remained for the Lakers’ first championship in 2000, as they went on to win three more championships.

He joined the Clippers as an advisor in 2017, helping to organize the breakdown of the team’s “Lob City” core, which led to the signings of Leonard and George. The Clippers advanced to the Western Conference finals for the first time in 2021.

“This is a difficult day.”I am honored to be Jerry’s confidant, advisor, and friend,” Clippers owner Steve Ballmer said in a statement. “My wife, Connie, called him my ‘basketball dad.'” He was my basketball sage: smart, dependable, and a lot of fun. If you were in his company, you could sense his competition and determination. He cared about everything and everyone.

Jerry’s knowledge, honesty, and passion have impressed me since the day I met him seven years ago. He never stopped. I spent a lot of time with him, during some of the most enjoyable periods of my life. He was always willing to listen and had a quick wit. He always made me chuckle. “I’ll miss him.”  West has served in the executive offices of the Memphis Grizzlies and the Golden State Warriors.

He was voted Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four despite West Virginia’s 1959 NCAA title defeat to Cal, and he averaged 24.8 points per game as a two-time All-American at West Virginia. West also joined up with Oscar Robertson to lead the United States to a gold medal at the 1960 Rome Olympics. With these feats, West became one of just 3 players to win Finals MVP, NCAA tournament Most Outstanding Player, and an Olympic gold medal.

West, who was known as “Mr. Clutch” due to his heroics in the last moments of games, was inducted into the Hall of Fame twice: first in 1980 for his playing career and again in 2010 for his role on the United States Olympic Team in 1960. He will be inducted for the third time as a contributor later this year.

Despite his teams’ 1-2 records against the Knicks and 0-6 record against the Celtics, West remains the all-time leader in total points, field goals made and attempted, and free throws attempted and attempted in NBA Finals.  “Those damn Celtics,” he often said.

West also made one of the most famous jumpers in Finals history, a 60-footer at the buzzer in Game 3 of the 1970 series between the Knicks and the Lakers that forced overtime.

Even in his dying years, West was regarded as basketball royalty. He often sat courtside at Summer League games in Las Vegas, sometimes watching several games in one day while meeting lengthy lines of players, including LeBron James, who approached to shake his hand and offer him homage.

“The game transcends many things,” West remarked last year during the Summer League. “The players change, the style of play may change, but the respect that you learn in this game never changes.”

In a pair of social media messages, James acknowledged West as a friend and mentor, saying he was “already missed.” Michael Jordan described West as “a friend and mentor—like an older brother to me.

“I valued his friendship and knowledge,” Jordan stated. “I always wanted to have competed against him, but as I got to know him more, I wished I had been his teammate. I appreciated his basketball acumen, and he and I had many parallels in how we viewed the game.

West, a native of Chelyan, West Virginia, was renowned as a tough player who was seldom happy with his performances. He grew up shooting at a hoop affixed to the side of a shed, sometimes firing until his fingers bled. He became the only high school player in state history to score more than 900 points in a single season, averaging 32.2 points per game while guiding East Bank High to a state championship.

Basketball, he would later admit, was his therapy.

West’s book, “West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life,” detailed his lifelong struggle with depression. He said that his upbringing was devoid of love and filled with rage as a consequence of an abusive father. He frequently felt useless, therefore, he stated that he focused his attention on playing the game.

“It never ceases to amaze me the places you can go in this world chasing a bouncing ball,” West said in 2019, after receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from then-President Donald Trump. “My quest started near Chelyan, West Virginia, where I hung a wire basket with no net from the side of a bridge. If your shot was missed, the ball would slide down a long bank, leaving you pursuing it indefinitely. So you’d best make it.

That was me—a dreamer. Even though we were poor, I used to sit on my front porch and fantasize about what I would see from the peak of the Appalachian Mountains if I were to climb them someday. Well, I got to the other side, and my hopes came true. I can see the sides owing to that bouncing ball.”

He ranks 25th on the NBA’s career scoring list, and although the NBA has never acknowledged that West was the basis for its emblem, which depicts a person dribbling a ball against a red-and-blue backdrop, the league has also never denied this. “While it’s never been officially declared that the logo is Jerry West,” Silver said in 2021, “it sure looks a lot like him.”

Abu Bakar
Abu Bakar
Abubakar is a writer and digital marketing expert. Who has founded multiple blogs and successful businesses in the fields of digital marketing, software development. A full-service digital media agency that partners with clients to boost their business outcomes.


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