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Jerry West, known as ‘The Logo’ of the NBA, dead at 86

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Jerry Alan West, the Hall of Fame Los Angeles Lakers guard whose competitive fire and clutch performances earned him the moniker “Mr. Clutch,” and whose iconic silhouette graces the NBA logo, passed away on June 12 at age 86.

“Jerry West was a basketball genius and a defining figure in our league for more than 60 years,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a 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.”

Born in May of 1938, in West Virginia, West’s journey to basketball greatness was marked by relentless dedication and an unwavering will to win. A standout at West Virginia University, he led the Mountaineers to the NCAA championship game in 1959 and earned Final Four Most Outstanding Player honors.

Drafted second overall by the Minneapolis Lakers (later the Los Angeles Lakers) in 1960, West quickly established himself as a force in the league.

Throughout his 14-year playing career, all spent with the Lakers, West was a perennial All-Star, earning selections in every season he played. West tallied an impressive stat line, averaging 27 points, six rebounds and seven assists per contest. Known for his silky jump shot, pestering defense and ability to deliver in crucial moments of the game, West rightfully earned the nickname “Mr. Clutch.”

West finished his playing career with 12 All-NBA First Team selections while leading the league in steals four times and scoring once.

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West’s impact on the game extended far beyond his awards. He led the Lakers to nine NBA Finals appearances, winning one championship in 1972. His performance in the 1969 Finals, where he became the first and only player from a losing team to be named Finals MVP, solidified his reputation as an unwavering competitor.

Off the court, West’s influence continued to shape the league. After his playing days, West transitioned into coaching and front-office roles, serving as the Lakers’ head coach for three seasons and later as their general manager. As a GM, he orchestrated the “Showtime” Lakers dynasty of the 1980s, acquiring key players like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and drafting Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson. His teams reached the NBA Finals eight times and won five championships during his tenure.

“Jerry’s four decades with the Lakers also included a successful stint as a head coach and a remarkable run in the front office that cemented his reputation as one of the greatest executives in sports history,” Silver said in a statement.

In the latter stages of his career, West held front-office positions with the Memphis Grizzlies in the early 2000s, where he was President of Basketball Operations. West also earned Executive of the Year honors in 1995 and 2004.

Before his untimely passing in 2020, Lakers Hall of Famer and five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant credits West with seeing the potential in him early in his career.

“He’s the man that believed in me from the beginning,” Bryant said. “That is before anybody knew anything. That was special.”

West was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1980 as a player and again in 2010 as a member of the 1960 Olympic team.

West leaves behind a towering legacy as one of the most influential figures in basketball history.

“I valued my friendship with Jerry and the knowledge he shared with me over many years about basketball and life,” Silver said in a statement. “On behalf of the NBA, we send our deepest condolences to Jerry’s wife, Karen, his family and his many friends in the NBA community.”

Contact multi-media and senior sports reporter Noral Parham III at 317-762-7846. Follow him on X @3Noral.

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