Freeman Cebu Sports

The Logo, 1938 -2024

NBA BUZZ - Bobby Motus - The Freeman

The basketball world in general, and the city of Los Angeles in particular, lost two greats.  Bill Walton, prior to entering the professional league, was a household name in the LA area as he starred for the UCLA Bruins.   He died after a long battle with cancer last May 27 at the age of 71.

On June 12, two weeks later, Jerry West, whose dribbling silhouette is the official NBA logo, is dead.

Ironically, the man who built two Laker dynasties – the Showtime Lakers of the 80s and the Kobe Bryant – Shaquille O’Neal era, it was the communications department of the LA Clippers who first announced his passing, saying, “Jerry West, the personification of basketball excellence and friend to all who knew him, passed away peacefully this morning at the age of 86.”

A first-round selection of the Minneapolis Lakers, West was their first draft pick after the franchise moved to Los Angeles in 1960.  Teaming up with Elgin Baylor, the duo became LA’s first superstars.  With Baylor’s inside game and West’s outside shooting, they were dubbed as “Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside”.

For many years, the Lakers were the best team in the Western Conference, but they could not get past Bill Russel and the Boston Celtics, surrendering to them six times in the NBA Finals.  In the 1969 Finals, West, playing injured, scored 42 points and was named the Finals MVP, the only player named as such from a losing team.  Until now, no other player had been named Finals MVP from a losing team.

The Lakers added Wilt Chamberlain in 1970 and after losing the Finals to the New York Knicks, West finally won his first and only championship in 1972.  Two years later, after 15 years of playing, he retired.   West coached the Lakers from 1976 to 1979 and became a player scout after his coaching stint.

West became LAL’s GM in 1982 winning four championships with the Showtime group of Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Byron Scott and AC Green.  He was named Executive of the Year in 1995.  Two more titles came during the Shaq and Kobe era, his sixth championship as an executive.

A disagreement with Phil Jackson led to West’s abrupt departure to Memphis in 2000 where he witnessed LAL’s struggles after Shaq’s was sent to Miami for Lamar Odom, Caron Butler and Brian Grant.   He won his second Executive of the Year award in Memphis.  He retired as GM in 2007.

West became part of Golden State’s executive board in 2011 with minority ownership.  He watched the Lakers in limbo during Kobe’s final years.  With the Warriors, he won his seventh and eighth title in 2015 and 2017.

In the middle of 2017, West publicly said that he would like to be back with the Lakers, but they hired Magic and Rob Pelinka to run the show.   West joined the Clippers’ executive board instead.   GM Pelinka can never compare, or to some extent, sometimes GM LeBron.

24 years ago, the greatest Laker of all left the organization and never came back.  He’s now gone forever and the least the Laker management could do is give some appreciation for West’s important contributions to the franchise as a player, coach, scout and executive.

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