Damn RIP: Jerry West, Iconic NBA Figure and Inspiration for the League’s Logo, Passes Away at 86

Jerry West, Iconic NBA Figure and Inspiration for the League's Logo, Passes Away at 86

NBA legend Jerry West, the inspiration behind the league’s logo, has passed away at 86. A trailblazing player, executive, and advocate, West’s eight-decade career included nine championships and a lasting impact on basketball history.

Jerry West, the legendary inspiration behind the NBA‘s logo, passed away peacefully at his home at the age of 86, the Los Angeles Clippers announced on Wednesday.

A pivotal figure in basketball history, West’s career spanned eight decades, during which he won nine championships as a player, scout, coach, executive, and consultant. He was instrumental in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 10 titles in the 1980s and 2000s and served as an advisor to the Golden State Warriors during their dynastic run.

Jerry West, Iconic NBA Figure and Inspiration for the League's Logo, Passes Away at 86

West was not only one of the league’s first superstars but also one of its most accomplished general managers. A standout in West Virginia high school and college basketball, he co-captained the 1960 U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team. During his 14-year career with the Lakers, West made the All-Star Game every season, earning 12 All-NBA selections and five All-Defensive appearances.

Although he secured only one title in nine NBA Finals appearances, often thwarted by Bill Russell’s Boston Celtics, West’s impact was undeniable. He remains the only player to win the Finals MVP award on a losing team, achieving the honor in 1969 after averaging 37.9 points per game in a seven-game series against the Celtics.

“He took a loss harder than any player I’ve ever known,” late Lakers broadcaster Chick Hearn once said of West. “He would sit by himself and stare into space. A loss just ripped his guts out.”

West’s reputation as a clutch performer was cemented with his 60-foot buzzer-beater that forced overtime in Game 3 of the 1970 Finals against the New York Knicks. He joined Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson as one of the league’s first players to score 25,000 points, averaging 27 points, 6.7 assists, and 5.8 rebounds per game over his career.

Jerry West, Iconic NBA Figure and Inspiration for the League's Logo, Passes Away at 86

Described by his fellow West Virginian and Lakers teammate Hot Rod Hundley as “the greatest competitor I’ve ever seen,” West’s nickname “Mr. Clutch” was well-earned. Hundley added, “Every time we were in that situation, boom, he’d make that shot.”

West’s perfectionism extended into his executive career, where he won Executive of the Year twice. As a scout and then general manager, he was a key architect of the “Showtime” Lakers, who won five championships in the 1980s. Before leaving the Lakers in 2000, West signed Shaquille O’Neal and traded for Kobe Bryant, setting the stage for another five titles from 2000-10.

West later managed the Memphis Grizzlies for five seasons before retiring at 69 in 2007. He joined the Golden State Warriors’ executive board in 2011, where he played a significant role in opposing a trade of Klay Thompson for Kevin Love and in recruiting Kevin Durant in 2016. After contributing to the Warriors’ championships, West joined the L.A. Clippers, helping to bring in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in 2019.

In 2019, West was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Despite his illustrious career, West’s personal life had its challenges. The son of a West Virginia coal mine electrician, he faced a troubled childhood, marked by the death of his older brother in the Korean War. West became a mental health advocate, sharing his struggles with depression in his memoir, “West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life.”

“The greatest honor a man can have is the respect and friendship of his peers. You have that more than any man I know,” Bill Russell said during “Jerry West Night” in 1972. “Jerry, you are, in every sense of the word, truly a champion. If I could have one wish granted, it would be that you would always be happy.”

West is survived by his five children, including his son, Jerry, who is currently a professional scout for the Detroit Pistons.

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