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Opinion: Why Jerry West should be the silhouette of the NBA

Updated on September 19, 2020
Michael Mannen profile image

Sportswriter and analyst for fun. Sometimes I will write about other topics.

No player in the Basketball Hall of Fame has helped shape the NBA more as a player, coach, and executive than Jerry West.

Jerry West is often regarded by many as one of the greatest players in NBA history.

A picture of West was selected as the logo for the NBA when it was at war with the ABA. At that time, the ABA had the best player in basketball in Julius Erving. The NBA tried to invent itself and a photo of West was rumored to selected as the logo because it captured the character of the NBA and the game of basketball.

However, nearly 50 years later, it seems that West was the perfect selection for the logo of the NBA. And considering what happened during the 2019 free agency, maybe this should have published sooner to give the Los Angeles Laker fans some warning about what they are competing against in Jerry West. Let's start with his career with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Let's examine Jerry West's career as a player, executive, and coach and why it has made such a mark on the NBA.

Jerry West as a player had a storied career with the Lakers that included nine final appearances and an NBA championship.

West was well regarded as the unspoken leader in all of his final appearances with the Lakers. West, in his final years with the Lakers, was instrumental in helping the Lakers acquire Wilt Chamberlain in a trade that helped the1971-72 Lakers when 69 games; a record that was not broken for 23 years. On the 1971-72 Lakers, West led the team in points, assists, and steals. While on the 1970s Lakers, West competed against and beat some of the greatest teams in NBA history including the Bucks with Oscar Robertson and Kareem Abdul Jabba and the New York Knicks with seven future Hall of Fame players on their squad.

As a Laker, he played with Pat Riley, Gail Goodrich, Wilt Chamberlain, and Elgin Baylor. West helped mentor and develop Pat Riley, who would later go on to coach the Lakers to 4 NBA titles and the Miami Heat to one Title. As an executive, Pat Riley would help develop Lebron James and help the Miami Heat when two more titles.

West ended his career with the Lakers averaging 29.1 PPG, 6.3 APG, 5.6 RPG and remains as the all-time leader of points scored in the NBA finals. Pretty hard to top. However, for West, this was only the edges of the shadow he started to cast over the NBA.

West, after he retired as a player, was quickly hired as a head coach for the Los Angeles Lakers a year after they acquired Kareem Abdul Jabbar. West coached the Lakers to the Western Conference finals his first year as a head coach after the Lakers had not made the playoffs the previous season. West coached Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for two of his MVPs with the Lakers and assumed the role of scout and GM after his head coaching job. West has been cited by many as being instrumental to drafting Magic Johnson and making him the face of the showtime Lakers. West remained as an executive with the Lakers for their five titles in the 1980s.

West would later return to an executive position in the Lakers organization and helped revitalize the franchise by identifying Kobe as a talent in the NBA draft, acquiring Shaq from the Orlando Magic, and signing Phil Jackson as a coach for the Lakers. The result was three more titles for the Lakers.

However, the Lakers would not be the last franchise that Jerry West would revitalize. West in 2002 was brought in by the Grizzlies and helped the Grizzlies draft and develop talents such as Pau Gasol and Jason Williams. West helped turn the Grizzlies into a consistent playoff contender and one of the most consistent franchises in the NBA.

In 2011, West was at it again and was hired by the Golden State Warriors in the infancy of the team's dynasty. With the Warriors, he served as an executive for the Warriors when they drafted talents such as Klay Thompsons, Draymond Green, and Harrison Barnes. And he remained with the Warriors when they won their first championship and acquired Kevin Durant in free agency. And Jerry West has not stopped.

In 2017, West joined the Los Angeles Clippers organization. For the 2019-20 season, the Clippers are on the precipice of dethroning the Lakers in LA after signing Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in the 2019 free agency. It is surprising since the Clippers in the past two years they have lost talents such as Austin Rivers, Avery Bradley, Tobias Harris, DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin, and Chris Paul. And yet, from last season, they progressed from the 10th seed to the 8th seed in the Western Conference without an All-Star on their roster. Signing Kawhi Leonard was instrumental in preventing the Lakers from forming an unbeatable super team for the foreseeable future.

Either Jerry West is the luckiest man alive, or he really is "Mr. Clutch." Regardless, Jerry West has been instrumental in building some of the NBA's greatest dynasties. He has been helpful in drafting, coaching, and developing some of the NBA's most exceptional talent. And as a player, he competed and beat some of the biggest legends in NBA history. Jerry West, as an executive and coach, has claimed 8 NBA championships and two executives of the year awards.

Arguably, no player, not even Michael Jordan, has impacted the NBA more than Jerry West as a player, coach, and executive. He casts the largest shadow over the NBA and should be its silhouette. And to think Jerry West lost 7 NBA finals when competing against Bill Russell. So where do Jordan fans send their thanks to to Bill Russell?

The Author
The Author

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Michael Mannen

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