Thursday, January 6, 2011

Jerry West "Mr Clutch"

 Jerry West ,also known as "Mr Clutch" was born in1938 and he is considered one of the best shooting guards in NBA history. He excited fans during his playing career with the Los Angeles Lakers, and later enjoyed great success as an executive for the team.
 He was an automatic scorer, lethal on defense, and could pass, rebound-whatever his team required. 
  West's biography noted that he was a small and shy boy, who did not make any of his junior high sports teams. He began a regimen to improve his basketball skills. West practiced in the rain, mud, and snow. He would forget to go home to eat dinner, and would practice shooting until his fingers bled. Eventually, West's hard work paid off. He made the varsity team at East Bank High School, and excelled in his senior year, becoming the first high school player in state history to score 900 points in a season. West then led his team to a state championship. In his book Basketball Superstars-Three Great Pros, Les Etter added, "In his honor, East Bank High School changed its name to West Bank for one week."

 Although recruited by many schools, West opted to attend and play basketball for West Virginia University.  As a West Virginia Mountaineer, West was twice named an All-American. In 1959, he led his team to the NCAA basketball tournament championship game. Even though they lost, West was selected the MVP for the tournament. In 1960, as co-captain of the U.S. Olympic basketball team, he won a gold medal. Reflecting back, West shared with Scharpling: "Winning a gold medal was a watershed moment for me. None of the players today would understand, but to win the Olympics as an amateur was an incredible thrill."

  Writing for Sports Illustrated, Richard Hoffer noted that after West won an Olympic gold medal, he "was astonished when the Lakers, just then picking up to move from Minneapolis to Los Angeles, drafted him in the first round in 1960." West recalled, "I didn't think I was good enough to play in the NBA." He signed a $15,000 contract with the Lakers. However, West did not have an overly impressive rookie season. In "The NBA at 50," a May 1996 interview for, West recalled, "I was like a fish out of water."

  West's second year went much better. Scharpling noted, "West nearly doubled his scoring output, pumping in 30.8 points per game (ppg), and adding 7.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists a game. West and Elgin Baylor became the Lakers' dynamic duo." That season, West played in his first NBA finals. The Lakers played the Celtics, but lost.

  Not blessed with great size, strength or dribbling ability, West made up for these deficiencies with pure hustle and an apparent lack of regard for his body. He broke his nose at least nine times." biography, West called the loss "particularly heartbreaking." West's strong ethic and dedication were legendary around the league. Etter observed, "He was always the first player out to practice and the last to leave." There is also stated, "Equally legendary was West's tolerance for pain.


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