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Golden State Warriors executive board member Jerry West sits on the bench by NBA logos before the game the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on March 31, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

OAN’s James Meyers
8:30 AM – Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Jerry West, who is considered one of the greatest players in NBA history, has died, the Los Angeles Clippers announced Wednesday. He was 86. 

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“Jerry West, the personification of basketball excellence and a friend to all who knew him, passed away peacefully this morning at the age of 86,” the team said. “His wife, Karen, was by his side.”

West, who is the NBA’s logo, who also built the 1980 Lakers dynasty as their general manager, had been working for the Clippers as a consultant. 

He was born in West Virginia in 1938, and he went on to become a college basketball star at the University of West Virginia. He led the Mountaineers to the National Championship Game in 1959, and earned the Final Four Most Outstanding Player award despite losing in the game.

The Minneapolis Lakers drafted West No. 2 overall in the 1960 NBA draft just before the team moved to Los Angeles. 

Inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1980, West was an All-Star every season of his 14-year career, all with the Los Angeles Lakers. He took the Lakers to nine NBA Finals, going 1-8, but he was such an outstanding player that he won Finals MVP in 1969 despite losing. He eventually led the team to a championship in 1972. 

The Lakers built a statue of West outside the Lakers’ arena and had his No. 44 retired by the team. He made the All-NBA first team 10 times, the All-Defensive first team four times and was the 1970 scoring champion.

He averaged 27 points, 6.7 assists and 5.8 rebounds for his career.

After retiring in 1974, West took over as the Lakers’ head coach in 1976, running the team for three seasons.

The basketball savant then became a scout for the team and was named their general manager in 1982. West put together the Showtime Lakers that won five NBA championships in the 1980s, which was a team that consisted of Magic Johnson, Kareem-Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy. 

The hall of famer constructed the Lakers dynasty in the 1990s and early 2000s, hiring Phil Jackson as the coach, trading for Kobe Bryant and signing Shaquille O’Neal as a free agent.

After capping off three-straight NBA championships in 2002, West then left the Lakers to become the Memphis Grizzlies’ general manager and helped get them to three playoff appearances in five seasons.

He then joined the Golden State Warriors in 2011 as a member of the executive board before going to the Clippers in 2017. 

West, who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2019, had two sons, Jonnie and Ryan, with his second wife Karen, and three sons, David, Mark and Michael, with his first wife, Martha.

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