NBA

Jerry West, Hall Of Fame Selection And NBA Logo Inspiration, Dies At 86

Jun 12, 2024, 9:13 AM

Jerry West NBA Summer League...

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 07: LA Clippers executive board member Jerry West attends a game between the Orlando Magic and the Houston Rockets during the 2022 NBA Summer League at the Thomas & Mack Center on July 07, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(AP) – Jerry West, who was selected to the Basketball Hall of Fame three times in a storied career as a player and executive, and whose silhouette is considered to be the basis of the NBA logo, died Wednesday morning, the Los Angeles Clippers announced.

He was 86.

West, nicknamed “Mr. Clutch” for his late-game exploits as a player, was an NBA champion who went into the Hall of Fame as a player in 1980 and again as a member of the gold medal-winning 1960 U.S. Olympic Team in 2010. He will be enshrined for a third time later this year as a contributor.

West was “the personification of basketball excellence and a friend to all who knew him,” the Clippers said in announcing his death. West’s wife, Karen, was by his side when he died, the Clippers said. West worked for the Clippers as a consultant for the last seven years.

He was an All-Star in all 14 of his NBA seasons, a 12-time All-NBA selection, part of the 1972 Lakers team that won a championship, an NBA Finals MVP as part of a losing team in 1969 and was selected as part of the NBA’s 75th anniversary team.

West was general manager of eight NBA championship teams with the Los Angeles Lakers, helping build the “Showtime” dynasty. He also worked in the front offices of the Memphis Grizzlies, the Golden State Warriors and the Clippers. Among his many, many highlights as an executive with the Lakers: he drafted Magic Johnson and James Worthy, then brought in Kobe Bryant and eventually Shaquille O’Neal to play alongside Bryant.

Are you on Threads yet? Let’s connect, give us a follow @kslsports

Even in the final years of his life, West was considered basketball royalty. He routinely sat courtside at Summer League games in Las Vegas, often watching many games in a day while greeting long lines of players — LeBron James among them — who would approach to shake his hand and pay him respect.

“The game transcends many things,” West said while attending Summer League last year. “The players change, the style of play may change, but the respect that you learn in this game never changes.”

He’s 25th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, and while the league has never confirmed that West was in fact the model for its logo — a player dribbling a ball, set against a red-and-blue background — the league has never said otherwise, either.

“While it’s never been officially declared that the logo is Jerry West,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in 2021, “it sure looks a lot like him.”

Tributes from across the sports world started quickly after the announcement of West’s death. The Los Angeles Dodgers released a statement calling West “an indelible figure on the Los Angeles sports landscape for more than 60 years,” and the NBA was planning a pregame tribute to West before Game 3 of the NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night.

“Jerry West is one of my favorite people that I had the honor to get to know in the NBA,” Miami Heat managing general partner Micky Arison said Wednesday. “He welcomed me to the league, offered advice from the first day, and asked nothing in return. He will be missed.”

A native of Chelyan, West Virginia, West was known as a tenacious player who was rarely satisfied with his performance. He grew up shooting at a basket nailed to the side of a shed and often shot until his fingers bled. He became the first high school player in state history to score more than 900 points in a season, averaging 32.2 points in leading East Bank High to a state title.

Basketball, he would later reveal, was his therapy.

In his memoir, “West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life,” West chronicled a lifelong battle with depression. He wrote that his childhood was devoid of love and filled with anger as a result of an abusive father. He often felt worthless, and to combat that, he said he put his energy into playing the game.

West led West Virginia University — where he is still the all-time leader in scoring average — to the NCAA final in 1959, when the Mountaineers lost by one point to California.

West won gold at the 1960 Summer Olympics and the following year joined the Lakers, where he spent his entire pro playing career. He was honored as one of the league’s 50 greatest players in 1996 and when the league expanded the polling to 75 players to commemorate its 75th anniversary, West was selected again.

“Success without a personal satisfaction or sacrifice isn’t success at all,” West said during a 2006 speech at a West Virginia commencement. “It’s posturing. Money is a means of power, but seldom a measure of success.”

Take us with you, wherever you go.

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio, video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

NBA

Utah Jazz waive Los Angeles Clippers guard Russell Westbrook...

Chandler Holt

Utah Jazz Officially Waive Guard Russell Westbrook

The Utah Jazz officially waived Russell Westbrook on Saturday, clearing the way for the veteran guard to join his next team via free agency.

4 hours ago

Adam Silver NBA Media Rights Deal...

TIM REYNOLDS AP Basketball Writer

NBA Moves Big Step Closer To Finalizing New 11-Year Media Rights Deals

The NBA's Board of Governors approved the league's next media rights deals with Disney, NBC and Amazon Prime Video

2 days ago

Keyonte George NBA Summer League Salt Lake City Utah Jazz...

Chandler Holt

Are NBA Summer League Struggles A Cause For Concern?

The NBA offseason is driven by recency bias and high expectations, with Summer League players feeling that pressure the most.

2 days ago

Utah Jazz Sumer League Brice Sensabaugh finger injury...

Chandler Holt

Utah Jazz Forward Brice Sensabaugh Suffers Torn Finger Tendon

Brice Sensabaugh will miss the rest of the Vegas Summer League after suffering a torn extensor tendon tear in his left middle finger.

5 days ago

NBA - Fans - Getty Images...

JOE REEDY AP Sports Writer

What You Need To Know About The NBA’s Upcoming Media Rights Deal

The NBA's new media rights deals nearly put the league in the same economic arena with the media behemoth that is the NFL.

9 days ago

u.s.a. men's basketball...

TIM REYNOLDS AP Basketball Writer

U.S. Men’s Basketball Goals In Paris: Win Gold, See Simone Biles

Bam Adebayo has two primary goals to accomplish at the Paris Olympics. The first one is obvious: a gold medal.

12 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

KSL Sports

Utah Hockey Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Want to get the latest info on Utah's newest sports franchise? Sign up for the Utah Hockey newsletter!

ksl-sports-newsletter...

KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.

...

KSL Sports

Jazz Notes Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the Jazz Notes newsletter. Get insider analysis, game recaps and opportunities to win tickets!

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.

Jordan-Clarkson-Utah-Jazz...

KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.

Jerry West, Hall Of Fame Selection And NBA Logo Inspiration, Dies At 86