Hall of Famer and NBA legend Jerry West turns 76
Current Golden State Warriors Manager Jerry West has been one of those few basketball greats who have achieved much success on the court as a player and off the court as a Head Coach or Executive.
Born on May 28th 1938, Jerry West was selected 2nd overall in the 1960 NBA Draft and was the first ever draft pick for the Lakers franchise in Los Angeles which had relocated from Minneapolis. Playing all of his 14 seasons as a Laker, Jerry West not only garnered a lot of nicknames, but also a lot of records which still stand unbroken.
“Mr. Clutch”, a name coined based on West’s ability to make a big play in clutch situations, still remains the only player ever to be named the NBA Finals MVP and be on the losing side. In the 1969 NBA Finals, West averaged 37.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 7.9 assists to be named the Finals MVP but his team fell victim to one of the most famous Playoff upsets of all time losing to the New York Knicks in Game 7.
A 14-time All-Star, West was named to the All-NBA First and Second teams 12 times in his career and was named the All-Star MVP in 1972 but never won the NBA regular season MVP award in his career. It was also in 1972 that West won his first and only NBA Championship, beating the New York Knicks avenging an upset dating back two year. It was a Final series that West struggled in owing to shooting slumps never the less it was the season West was part of a team which still holds the NBA record of 33 consecutive wins in a single season.
Three years after retiring in 1974 over contract issues, West took over the Head Coaching job for the Lakers and led the Kareem Abdul Jabbar team to the Playoffs in all his three seasons, including one trip to the Conference Finals. He then became a scout for the Lakers for three years before becoming the Geneal Manager in 1982 and is often credited for all the success that the Lakers’ dynasty achieved in the 1980s, capturing 5 NBA titles in 8 NBA Finals appearnaces.
It was Jerry West that first brought Shaquille O’Neal to the Lakers from Orlando and then Kobe Bryant from Charlotte in the same off-season, a dynasty which would later win 3 consecutive NBA Championships in 4 NBA Finals appearances.
A two time NBA Executive of the Year award winner, once for the Lakers in 1995 and later as Grizzlies manager in 2004, West will always be one of the Top 5 players to have ever played in the league, and if some disagree, he will still always remain in the hearts of all NBA fans as the the player based on whom the NBA logo was incorporated.