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Jerome Alan West (born May 28, 1938 in Chelyan, West Virginia) has had one of the most successful careers ever in professional basketball, first as a player, then as a coach and finally as an executive. He was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1980, and his dribbling silhouette has long been used in the National Basketball Association's official logo.
Like most NBA players, West was a standout in high school and at college, attending West Virginia University and leading it to the 1959 NCAA championship game (of which he was named Most Valuable Player) before embarking on a 14-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers. He also played for, and co-captained with Oscar Robertson, the 1960 U.S. Olympic gold medal team in Rome.
His nicknames included "Mr. Clutch", for his skill and ability to make a shot in a clutch situation, and "Zeke from Cabin Creek", given to him by teammate Elgin Baylor, and one West was not particularly fond of. The latter name is somewhat of a misnomer, but not completely; Cabin Creek is the name of both a stream and a community near West's hometown of Chelyan. The community of Cabin Creek is on the opposite side of the stream from Chelyan as it enters the Kanawha River.
On November 26, 2005, his number 44 became the first basketball number to be retired by West Virginia University. His son Jonnie West signed to play basketball with WVU in 2006.
Jerry West attended East Bank, West Virginia High School from 1952-1956. He was named an All-State from 1953-56, and an All-American in 1956, when he was also named West Virginia Player of the Year after becoming the state's first high-school player to score more than 900 points in a season (32.2 ppg, 1956). He also led East Bank to a state championship that same year. Due to his tremendous play in the state championship, the school of East Bank changes their name every year on that same day to West Bank.
He played for the West Virginia University Mountaineers, in Morgantown, West Virginia, from 1956-1960. Among his college highlights, he was named to the All-Southern Conference (1958-60), All-American Second Team (1958), and The Sporting News All-America First Team (1959-60). In his WVU career, he averaged 24.8 points and 13.3 rebounds per game.
In addition to the Olympic Games, he was a member of the United States' Pan American Games gold medal-winning team (1959).
The silhouette on the NBA logo is that of Jerry West.Drafted in the NBA, West spent his entire professional career (1960-74) with the Los Angeles Lakers franchise. Although he was teamed with Hall-of-Fame scorer Elgin Baylor for most of his career, West still averaged more than 30 points per game in four different seasons and led the league in scoring during the 1969-70 season. An excellent playmaker, West also led the league in assists per game during the 1971-72 season. Although steals weren't recorded by the NBA until West's final season, at age 35 West became the first player in the league to ever record 10 steals in a single game — still the Lakers franchise record.
Heralded as one of the most legendary clutch shooters in the NBA's history, West averaged 29.1 points per game in 153 playoff games, including 40.6 in 11 playoff games in 1965, and sunk one of the most famous shots in NBA history: a 60-footer with no time remaining to send a 1970 championship game against the New York Knicks into overtime, a game the Lakers ultimately lost.
West played in nine NBA Finals, but finished his career with only one championship, won in the 1971-72 season, the year the Lakers established a modern North American Professional Sports record of 33 straight wins. He retired two years later, after leading the Lakers to yet another Pacific Division title in the 1973-74 season — this, in spite of the loss of legendary center Wilt Chamberlain to retirement. As a testament to West's on-court leadership and presence, the Lakers fell to the Pacific Division cellar the year after he retired with a 30-52 record. West later became a coach who carried the Lakers into the playoffs in his three seasons 1976-1979, after which he was hired as an executive for the club in various positions.
When he retired, West had scored 25,192 points, averaged 27.0 points per game, and made 7,160 free throws and 6,238 assists. He was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team four times (the NBA All-Defensive Team did not exist until West's 9th season), to the All-NBA First Team 10 times, and to the All-Star team 13 times in his career. West was named the All-Star Game MVP in 1972. West is still the only player ever to be named NBA Finals MVP when on a losing team. He accomplished this in the 1969 NBA Finals against Boston, the first year the award was given. In 1980 he was named to the NBA's 35th Anniversary All-Time Team.
In 1982, Jerry West was named general manager of the Lakers, and through shrewd trades and draft picks, maintained the Lakers' status in the NBA elite for the rest of the decade. These teams were built around the core of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and James Worthy and would go on to win four more championships in 1982, 1985, 1987, and 1988 becoming the first team to win back-to-back championships since the great Boston Celtics dynasty of the 1960s did so in 1968 and 1969.
Following a slump in the early 1990s, West received the NBA Executive of the Year Award in 1995 after his Lakers reached the playoffs. West is credited for bringing Kobe Bryant onto the team and signing free agent Shaquille O'Neal to the team, which would later go on to win three consecutive NBA titles.
In 2002 he was hired as President of Basketball Operations by the Memphis Grizzlies. Although it was the worst team in the NBA at that time, West quietly rebuilt the team. In 2004, the Grizzlies won 50 games for the first time in their history, and West was named NBA Executive of the Year for the second time.
He currently lives in Memphis with his wife and 17-year-old son, Jonnie, who has signed to play college basketball at West Virginia University.
Lakers Players News
Lakers' Odom defers decision on hurt shoulder (Los Angeles Times) Forward will wait two to three weeks before choosing among playing through, surgery or more rest to recover from a torn labrum. MINNEAPOLIS — Lakers forward Lamar Odom will wait two to three weeks before choosing from three options in his road to recovery from a torn labrum in his shooting shoulder.
Nash scores 23 to lead Suns over Lakers (AP via Yahoo! News) Since getting Steve Nash back in the lineup, the Phoenix Suns are surging. The revamped Philadelphia 76ers have improved since getting rid of a couple of big-name players. Nash scored 18 of his 23 points in the second half — including two free throws with 5.4 seconds to play — and the Phoenix Suns held on to beat the short-handed Los Angeles Lakers 99-94 on Sunday.
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Preview: Lakers at Timberwolves (Covers.com) The struggling Los Angeles Lakers have encountered yet another setback. Lamar Odom is expected to miss his second straight game with a shoulder problem when the injury-plagued Lakers visit the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday . Oddsmak...
Suns lack wattage, but push past Lakers at home (USA Today) Steve Nash scored 18 of his 23 points in the second half, including two free throws with 5.4 seconds to play, and the Phoenix Suns held on to beat the shorthanded Los Angeles Lakers 99-94 on Sunday. Leandro Barbosa added 20 points and Amare Stoudemire 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Suns hold on against undermanned Lakers (AP via Yahoo! News) The Phoenix Suns usually sprint to victory. With their "mojo" severely lacking Sunday, they staggered to one. Steve Nash scored 18 of his 23 points in the second half — including two free throws with 5.4 seconds to play — and the Suns held on to beat the short-handed Los Angeles Lakers 99-94.
Marion returns as Suns down depleted Lakers (AFP via Yahoo! News) Shawn Marion returned after a two-game absence on Sunday and helped the Phoenix Suns hold off the Los Angeles Lakers for a 99-94 National Basketball Association victory.
Suns' 3rd-quarter spurt fuels win over Kobe's Lakers (Sports Illustrated) Steve Nash scored 18 of his 23 points in the second half -- including two free throws with 5.4 seconds to play, and the Phoenix Suns held on to beat the short-handed Los Angeles Lakers 99-94 on Sunday.
Shoulder injury sidelines Lakers forward Odom (AFP via Yahoo! News) Los Angeles Lakers forward Lamar Odom will be sidelined indefinitely with a left shoulder injury, a US newspaper reported Saturday.
I’m Rooting for a Spurs-Lakers Playoff Match Up (WOAI) The Spurs could see the Lakers in round one of the playoffs. I love it, and you can read all about it in our sports blog. The comments are mixed when it comes to L.A.