The NBA loses a legend in Jerry West

Former player, head coach, and executive, Jerry West, dies at age 86.
Celebrities At The Los Angeles Clippers Game
Celebrities At The Los Angeles Clippers Game / Allen Berezovsky/GettyImages

The NBA and sports world is saddened Wednesday with the loss of an absolute legend. Jerome Alan West died on Wednesday, June 12, 2014. Known for being the silhouette for the NBA's official logo, 'Mr. Clutch' was 86 years old.

From the town of Chelyan, West Virginia, he attended and played for the University of West Virginia. His basketball career really took off in his days playing in Morgantown. Jerry West was married twice and has two children, Jonnie and Ryan West. Jonnie is married to golfer Michelle Wie.

West broke into the NBA as the second overall pick in the 1960 draft. Selected by the Minneapolis Lakers, this was the only team he ever played for. However, the team did relocate that year to their current home, Los Angeles. They became the league's first West Coast team.

Playing alongside Elgin Baylor and eventually Wilt Chamberlain, West appeared in nine NBA finals during the 1960s and '70s. In the 1968-1969 NBA season, he won Finals MVP honors. A year later, he won his first and only scoring title.

He was an All-Star in each of his 14 seasons in the league. West was named All-NBA twelve times and All-Defense five times. In 1996, the combo point/shooting guard was announced as one of the 50 Greatest Players. 25 years later, West was named to the NBA 75th Anniversary team in 2021.

In 932 career games with the Los Angeles Lakers, West averaged 27 points per game. He also averaged 5.8 rebounds and 6.7 assists a contest. His shooting averages from the field were 47.4% and 81.4% from the free-throw line.

Jerry West
2023 NBA Summer League - Detroit Pistons v Houston Rockets / Allen Berezovsky/GettyImages

After retiring as a player, West became the head coach of the Lakers for three years. Following those three years in charge on the bench, he became a scout in the front office. He was promoted to General Manager before the start of the 1982-1983 season.

From 1979 to 2000, West experienced an illustrious career as an executive for the Lakers. He was responsible for playing a part in the construction of the 'Showtime Era' Lakers. They won the NBA title five times in the 1980s (80', 82', 85' 87', and 88').

After leaving the Lakers in 2000, West still was instrumental in the team roster he left behind. Thanks in part to star players Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal, the Lakers won three consecutive titles. They were the first three-peat since the Chicago Bulls did it twice in the 1990's.

The next team West would help grow and improve was the Memphis Grizzlies. From 2002 to 2007, he was instrumental in their first taste of prosperity. For the second time in his career, West was named Executive of the Year in 2004.

After a four-year hiatus, he returned to the West Coast and was a part of the front office for the Golden State Warriors. In 2015, the team won their first championship in 40 years. It was the seventh title for West as an executive.

His last stint in a front office, as a consultant, saw him return to Los Angeles. This time, West became a member of the Clippers organization starting in 2017. He aided in the recruitment of signing then-coveted free agent Kawhi Leonard.


Not only was West the face of the NBA as a player, the body of a player in its logo, but he also served as the heart of many NBA franchises' history. Few players such as Larry Bird and Steve Kerr have been able to capture success as both: a player and an executive. He did as we say goodbye to this legend.