NBA Star Jerry West Dies at 86

( – Jerry West, a legend of basketball, died at 86. Known as “Mr. Clutch.” His entire playing career was spent with the Los Angeles Lakers, leaving an indelible mark on the game. He was a 14-time All-Star, NBA champion in 1972, and even won the Finals MVP in 1969 despite his team not taking the title.

West’s silhouette is the inspiration behind the NBA’s iconic logo, a fact unofficially acknowledged but never confirmed by the league. Despite this honor, West never sought to be the emblem. He humbly stated in 2021 that he’s just a part of the game, expressing gratitude for his fortunate life.

He maintained an average of 29.1 points per game, second only to Michael Jordan. West retired after the 1973-74 season, transitioning to a coaching role with the Lakers, then to a scouting position, and ultimately to the role of general manager.

In his executive role, West was instrumental in assembling the Showtime Lakers, featuring Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and James Worthy. His front-office prowess didn’t stop there. In 1996, he orchestrated the acquisition of Kobe Bryant from the Charlotte Hornets and signed Shaquille O’Neal, forming a duo that would lead the Lakers to three championships.

West’s career also included a stint with the Memphis Grizzlies, where he helped develop Pau Gasol into a star. Gasol later joined the Lakers, contributing to more championships alongside Bryant. In 2011, West joined the Golden State Warriors’ executive board, aiding in the formation of a dynasty spearheaded by Stephen Curry. His final role was with the Los Angeles Clippers, starting in 2017.

West received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2019 from President Trump, recognizing his contributions to basketball. West’s legacy includes building eight championship teams and influencing countless players and executives.

Michael Jordan regarded West as a mentor, likening him to an older brother.

Born in Chelyan, West Virginia, West’s journey began with a basketball hoop nailed to a shed. He overcame a challenging childhood, marked by an abusive father, finding solace and purpose in basketball. His high school success led him to West Virginia University, where he still holds the record for highest scoring average.

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