Jerry West, Legendary NBA Player and Executive, Dies at 86

Mar 7, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers former player Jerry West speaks at a statue unveiling ceremony for Los Angeles Kings former player Luc Robitaille (not pictured) before the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jerry West, the iconic NBA player and executive affectionately known as “Mr. Clutch,” has died at the age of 86, according to an announcement from the Los Angeles Clippers. The team stated that West passed away on Wednesday morning, with his wife Karen by his side.

Drafted by the then Minneapolis Lakers in 1960, West quickly became a cornerstone of the franchise, which soon relocated to Los Angeles. Over his illustrious playing career, West was a 14-time NBA All-Star and led his team to the NBA Finals nine times. His remarkable skill and tenacity on the court earned him the nickname “Mr. Clutch.”

West’s legacy extends beyond his playing days. A silhouette of West during a Lakers game became the inspiration for the NBA’s logo, earning him another moniker, “The Logo.” Additionally, he served as a co-captain of the U.S. Olympic basketball team that won the gold medal in 1960.

Jerry West (No. 44) driving to the paint against the New York Knicks in Inglewood, CA, in 1973.
Jerry West (No. 44) driving to the paint against the New York Knicks in Inglewood, CA, in 1973. George Long/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

After retiring from playing in 1974, West transitioned to coaching, leading the Lakers for three seasons starting in 1976. He later became a scout and eventually moved into the front office, where he played a crucial role in the development of the “Showtime” Lakers of the 1980s, featuring Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and James Worthy. In the mid-1990s, he orchestrated the acquisition of Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, setting the stage for another era of Lakers dominance.

West’s influence extended beyond the Lakers as he took on leadership roles with the Memphis Grizzlies, Golden State Warriors, and most recently, the Clippers. His contributions to the sport were recognized at the highest level when he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2019.

Jerry West’s passing marks the end of an era for the NBA, but his legacy as a player, coach, and executive will continue to inspire future generations.

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