5 times Jerry West proved he was the greatest NBA executive of all time

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5 times Jerry West proved he was the greatest NBA executive of all time

"The Logo" Jerry West passed away peacefully on June 12 at the age of 86. West was one of the greatest players the game has ever seen, representing the LA Lakers for 14 seasons. He also served as the franchise's head coach for three years before taking a front-office role.

West won just one NBA championship as a player in 1972 but famously won NBA Finals MVP in 1969 despite being on the losing team. He added eight more championships to his resume as an executive – six with the Lakers and two with the Golden State Warriors.

The 14-time NBA All-Star had an overall great career as a player and a much better one as an executive. He was in charge of the Lakers for 18 seasons and built a formidable Memphis Grizzlies franchise from 2002 to 2007 before joining the Warriors in 2011. He left Golden State in 2017 to join the LA Clippers, where he was employed until his death.

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In honor of Jerry West's career as an NBA executive, let's look at some of his biggest moves that shaped the league's history.


5 times Jerry West proved that he's the GOAT NBA executive


Signing Kawhi Leonard and acquiring Paul George in 2019

The LA Clippers brought in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in 2019.
The LA Clippers brought in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in 2019.

Jerry West pulled off one of the biggest offseasons in NBA history in 2019 when he signed Kawhi Leonard as a free agent. West also acquired Paul George from the OKC Thunder for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and a bunch of first-round picks.

Leonard and George might not have won an NBA championship for the Clippers, but they ensured the franchise became relevant. The Clippers reached their first Western Conference finals in 2021 and will usher in a new era next season when they make their debut at the Intuit Arena and away from the LA Lakers.


Drafting James Worthy No. 1 in 1982

James Worthy was the first overall pick in the 1982 NBA draft.
James Worthy was the first overall pick in the 1982 NBA draft.

It's rare to see the reigning NBA champions get the first overall pick, but that's what the LA Lakers did in 1982. They had the No. 1 pick due to a deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers years earlier. It was Jerry West's first year as a general manager, and he did not miss by picking James Worthy out of UNC.

Things could have been different since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wanted out of Hollywood and the Lakers were cooking a trade that would have gotten them Worthy and Ralph Sampson. The trade fell through after Sampson decided to return to Houston, and the rest was history.


Drafted Klay Thompson and Draymond Green in 2011 and 2012

The Golden State Warriors drafted Klay Thompson and Draymond Green in 2011.
The Golden State Warriors drafted Klay Thompson and Draymond Green in 2011.

Jerry West made quite an impression with the Golden State Warriors when he joined as an executive member under owners Joe Lacob and Peter Gruber. West was instrumental in helping the Warriors ace the 2011 NBA draft by selecting Klay Thompson with the No. 11 pick.

West did it again the next year when Golden State pulled off a haul of rookies, including Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green. All four players were instrumental in the 2015 NBA championship, while Thompson and Green won three more titles in 2017, 2018 and 2022.


Signing Kevin Durant in 2016

Kevin Durant joined the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 offseason.
Kevin Durant joined the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 offseason.

The Golden State Warriors failed to win the NBA championship in 2016 despite finishing the regular season with a 73-9 record. They blew a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals to the Cleveland Cavaliers, so they made a boss move the following offseason: signing Kevin Durant in free agency.

Jerry West was one of the minds behind the biggest signing in recent NBA history. The Warriors signed Durant, who helped win two straight championships in 2017 and 2018. They would have won a third one in 2019, but KD tore his Achilles in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.


Signing Shaquille O'Neal and acquiring Kobe Bryant in 1996

The LA Lakers brought in Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant in the summer of 1996.
The LA Lakers brought in Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant in the summer of 1996.

Jerry West pulled off one of the greatest offseasons in NBA history in 1996. West convinced Shaquille O'Neal to leave the Orlando Magic and sign with the LA Lakers. He also acquired Kobe Bryant, the 13th overall pick of the draft, from the Charlotte Hornets.

Shaq and Kobe became one of the greatest duos in NBA history, winning three straight championships from 2000 to 2002. Kobe added two more titles in 2009 and 2010 with the inadvertent help of West, who was the general manager of the Grizzlies when the Lakers acquired Pau Gasol.

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Edited by Juan Paolo David
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