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Jerry West, basketball great, embodiment of NBA, dead at 86

In addition to being known as a smooth playmaking guard, the NBA logo is made of West's silhouette.
Hall of Fame Basketball
Posted at 8:06 AM, Jun 12, 2024

NBA legend Jerry West has died at age 86, the Los Angeles Clippers announced Wednesday. West was a 14-time All-Star, spending his entire playing career as a member of the Lakers. He also won a title with the Lakers in 1972.

Following his basketball playing career, he coached the Lakers from 1976 to 1979, making the playoffs in all three seasons. He then took on front-office roles with the Lakers, Grizzlies, Warriors and Clippers. Prior to his death, he was an executive board member and consultant for the Clippers.

In addition to being known as a smooth playmaking guard, the NBA logo is made of West's silhouette.

In 972 career regular season games, West averaged 27 points per game. Before winning a title in 1972, West's Los Angeles Lakers made it to seven NBA Finals, losing to rival Boston Celtics in six of those series. The 1972 championship marked the Lakers' first title since 1954, and the organization's first since moving to Los Angeles.

Bill Walton, left, jokes with Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic.

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His No. 44 jersey is one of 13 numbers retired by the Lakers.

Although he arguably had one of the best playing careers in NBA history, his executive resume was equally impressive. He helped turn the Lakers into a dynasty in the 1980s, being part of the Lakers' five championships in 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988. After the likes of Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar retired, he helped rebuild the Lakers into another dynasty in the late '90s, signing Phil Jackson to coach and attracting the players such as Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. West was with the Lakers when they won a title in 2000 and had helped lay the groundwork for future championships.

After leaving the Lakers in 2000, he joined the Memphis Grizzlies as their general manager in 2002, serving the club for five years.

In 2011, he joined the Golden State Warriors as an executive board member. West was part of a front office that transformed the Warriors from a middling Western Conference team into yet a dynasty with the assistance of coach Steve Kerr and 3-point sharpshooters Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.

The future NBA great was raised in the small West Virginia town of Chelyan. He'd later lead the West Virginia Mountaineers to their first Final Four appearance in 1959. After he left West Virginia in 1960, West was named to the U.S. Olympic Team, helping the Americans win gold that year.

West has been inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame three times, as a player, member of the 1960 Olympic Team and an executive.

NBA legend Michael Jordan reacted to the announcement.

“I am so deeply saddened at the news of Jerry’s passing. He was truly a friend and mentor – like an older brother to me," Jordan said in a statement. "I valued his friendship and knowledge. I always wished I could have played against him as a competitor, but the more I came to know him, I wish I had been his teammate. I admired his basketball insights and he and I shared many similarities to how we approached the game. He will be forever missed! My condolences to his wife, Karen, and his sons. RIP, Logo.”