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Basketball legend Jerry West dies at 86

REUTERS/JOSHUA ROBERTS/FILE PHOTO
                                President Donald Trump presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to NBA Hall of Famer Jerry West in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, in September 2019. West, widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all-time whose silhouette was the inspiration for the National Basketball Association’s logo, has died at the age of 86.
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REUTERS/JOSHUA ROBERTS/FILE PHOTO

President Donald Trump presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to NBA Hall of Famer Jerry West in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, in September 2019. West, widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all-time whose silhouette was the inspiration for the National Basketball Association’s logo, has died at the age of 86.

Jerry West, widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all-time whose silhouette was the inspiration for the National Basketball Association’s logo, has died at the age of 86.

The Los Angeles Clippers, where he worked as an executive, confirmed the death today, saying the 14-time NBA all-star passed away peacefully with his wife Karen by his side.

“Jerry West was a basketball genius and a defining figure in our league for more than 60 years,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.

“He distinguished himself not only as an NBA champion and an all-star in all 14 of his playing seasons but also as a consummate competitor who embraced the biggest moments.

“He was the league’s first Finals MVP and made rising to the occasion his signature quality, earning him the nickname ‘Mr. Clutch’.”

West, who played as a shooting guard, led the Los Angeles Lakers to nine NBA Finals but only once hoisted the championship trophy.

He remains the only person named most valuable player of the championship series despite playing for the losing team having won the award in 1969.

Taken with the second overall pick in the 1960 NBA draft by the Minneapolis Lakers before the team relocated to Los Angeles, West became the third player to reach 25,000 points and retired in 1974 holding the records for career post-season scoring and the highest average in a playoff series.

West was co-captain of the 1960 U.S. men’s basketball team that won the Olympic gold medal.

In 2019 West was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Donald Trump.

The sharp-shooting West was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a player in 1980 and will be honored again later this year when he is enshrined as a contributor.

“As a player and an executive, his profound impact on the game of basketball is matched only by his character and integrity,” said the Basketball Hall of Fame in a statement.

After his playing career West, whose other nickname was “The Logo” went on to become one of the NBA’s top executives.

As general manager and executive vice president of the Lakers he built six championship teams, showing a shrewd eye for talent by drafting Magic Johnson before bringing in Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.

He also had front office stints with the Memphis Grizzlies, the Golden State Warriors, where he won two more titles and the Clippers, twice being named the NBA’s executive of the year.

His legacy extends beyond his own achievements on the court, living on through his family, notably his son Jonnie West and daughter-in-law, Michelle Wie West.

Michelle Wie West — a renowned professional golfer, Hawaii native and graduate of Punahou School — married Jonnie West, the son of Jerry West and the director of basketball operations for the Golden State Warriors, in Beverly Hills in August 2019.

The couple welcomed their first child, daughter Makenna Kamalei Yoona West, on June 19, 2020. Wie West announced on May 13 that she is expecting her second child.

News of West’s death triggered an outpouring of tributes on social media from fans and the game’s giants.

“Will truly miss our convos my dear friend! My thoughts and prayers goes out to your wonderful family! Forever love Jerry! Rest in Paradise my guy!,” posted the Lakers’ LeBron James, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, on X.

Michael Jordan offered his condolences, issuing an emotional statement through ESPN broadcaster Stephen A. Smith.

“I am so deeply saddened at the news of Jerry’s passing,” Jordan said in a statement. “He was truly a friend and a mentor. Like an older brother to me.

“I valued his friendship and knowledge.

“I always wished I could’ve played against him as a competitor, but the more I came to know him, I wish I had been his teammate.

“He will be forever missed. My condolences to his wife Karen and his sons. Rest in peace, Logo.”


Additional reporting by Honolulu Star-Advertiser staff.


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