- General Manager of the Los Angeles Lakers
- A master team-builder
Jerry West one of the top 50 NBA players of all-time. A all-star for 13 years, Jerry West ranks among the top in total career points. Now he is among the finest general managers in professional sports.
In the National Basketball Association’s splendid history, you’d be hard pressed to find a better pure shooter than Jerry Alan West. When the game was on the line, West’s Los Angeles Laker teammates always found a way to get the ball to “Mr. Clutch.” His cool, calm, collected personality and leadership ability on the court was a coach’s dream. In storybook fashion, Jerry West was on the fast track to stardom from the day he touched a basketball. As a schoolboy phenom at East Bank High School, West led his team to a state championship in his senior year, and in the process, became the first West Virginia scholastic player to score more than 900 points in one season. Such scoring prowess caught the attention of more than 60 college recruiters, but West remained home and became an even greater state folk hero at West Virginia University. West starred on a 17-0 freshman team at WVU, then started as a sophomore (17.8 ppg), junior (26.6 ppg) and a senior (29.3 ppg). In 1959, his junior year, West led the Mountaineers to the NCAA Finals and captured the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award. In a superlative senior season, West was a consensus All-America and led West Virginia to its third consecutive conference championship.
Before embarking on a glorious 14-year professional career with the Los Angeles Lakers, West played for the 1960 U.S. Olympic gold medal team in Rome. In Los Angeles, West played virtually his entire career with Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor, and five years with Wilt Chamberlain. When he retired, West’s name was found on nearly every page of the record books. He scored 25,192 points (third), averaged 27.0 ppg (fourth), made 7,160 free throws (second) and dished out 6,238 assists (fifth). He averaged over 20 points a season every year but his first and averaged over 30 points four times (1962, 1965, 1966, 1970). West was equally adept on the defensive end, named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team four times.
During his career, West was All-NBA First Team 10 times. He was selected to 14 All-Star teams (1972 MVP), and in 1980, was named to the NBA’s 35th Anniversary All-Time Team. He also was the NBA Finals MVP in 1969. What fans will remember most about Jerry West is his uncanny ability to perform under pressure. He averaged 29.1 ppg in 153 playoff games-40.6 ppg in 11 playoff games in 1965-and canned a remarkable 60-foot shot with no time remaining to send a 1970 Laker-Knick championship game into overtime. West’s only NBA championship was won in 1972, the year Bill Sharman coached Los Angeles to a record 33-straight regular season wins. Due to recurring injuries, West retired following the 1973-74 season and coached the Lakers into the playoffs in his three seasons (1976-1979).