by Kyle Broker
Jerry West college basketball and NBA career were only the beginning in his long and eventful life. It could be said that no other NBA figure had more impact on the sport of professional basketball than Jerry West.
Jerry West's career spanned from his college days in West Virginia, his stint with the Los Angeles Lakers as an NBA legend and then to the front office. West is also considered the best NBA GM of all time.
Jerry West began his career playing for the West Virginia Mountaineers in 1957. West led the team to the NCAA Finals, losing to the University of California. In the NCAA Tournament he scored a total of 160 points in five games.
West was the dominant player in the tournament and ended his college career with a 24.8 point average and two selections as an All-American. West also played in the 1960 Summer Olympics along with Oscar Robertson, winning the gold medal.
Drafted by the Minneapolis Lakers in 1960, soon to become the Los Angeles Lakers, Jerry West was the symbol of grit and tenacity for his new team. When anyone gave an example of what could be accomplished through hard work and fortitude, Jerry West was the first example given.
He was chosen to be the white silhouette on the NBA logo because the NBA considered West the symbol of perfection as a basketball player.
Known as "Mr Clutch," Jerry West had a habit of hitting the last shot in amazing walk off fashion. The 1969 NBA Finals were lost by the Lakers to the Boston Celtics but West was named the NBA Finals MVP.
His NBA career was full of accomplishments including 14 NBA All-Star appearances, an NBA title and 25,192 points in 932 games. West also averaged 27 points per game, one of the greatest accomplishments of any NBA player.
West career in the front office was equally incredible. The Los Angeles Lakers hired him as the general manager in 1982 and West wasted no time in assembling a team that won three consecutive NBA Championships with Pat Riley as head coach.
West presided over "Showtime" a nickname of the 80s Lakers team and his first NBA Draft pick was James Worthy, a critical component in the success of Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Other pieces to the puzzle added by West were Jamaal Wilkes, Michael Cooper and Byron Scott.