Reaction to the death of Jerry West, 'a basketball genius' (2024)

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The NBA and sports world reacted Wednesday to the death of basketball Hall of Famer Jerry West. He died Wednesday morning at age 86 with his wife, Karen, by his side, according to a statement from the Los Angeles Clippers. West had been working for the Clippers as a consultant.


“Jerry West was a basketball genius and a defining figure in our league for more than 60 years. He distinguished himself not only as an NBA champion and an All-Star in all 14 of his playing seasons, but also as a consummate competitor who embraced the biggest moments. He was the league’s first Finals MVP and made rising to the occasion his signature quality, earning him the nickname ‘Mr. Clutch.’” — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.


“Will truly miss our convos my dear friend! My thoughts and prayers goes out to your wonderful family! Forever love Jerry! Rest in Paradise my guy!” — Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James on X.


“I am so deeply saddened at the news of Jerry’s passing. He was truly a friend and mentor — like an older brother to me. I valued his friendship and knowledge. I always wished I could have played against him as a competitor, but the more I came to know him, I wish I had been his teammate. I admired his basketball insights and he and I shared many similarities to how we approached the game. He will be forever missed! My condolences to his wife, Karen, and his sons. RIP, Logo.” — Michael Jordan, former NBA great and current Charlotte Hornets minority owner.


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“This is a hard day. I am honored to call Jerry a confidant, an advisor and a friend. Connie, my wife, called him my ‘basketball dad.’ He was absolutely my basketball sage: wise, loyal and so much fun. If you were in his presence, you felt his competitiveness and his drive. He cared about everything and everyone. From the first day I met Jerry seven years ago, he inspired me with his intellect, honesty and enthusiasm. He never stopped. I spent a lot of time with him, some of the best times of my life. He always lent an ear, and he always had a quip. He always left me laughing. I will miss him.” — Clippers owner Steve Ballmer.


“He was smart, committed, opinionated, fearless, generous, ultra-competitive, stubborn, but with great grace. These were just some of the characteristics he embedded in my psyche. They emerged at the right time, honed by many years of self-talking Jerry reminders. Jerry kicked down that coaching door for me and said, ‘You can do this, but it has to be now.’ He knew, then he let me coach. I thank him forever and always for giving me that opportunity.” — Pat Riley, Miami Heat president and former Los Angeles Lakers player and coach.


“Every time I achieved a goal or crossed a milestone, one of the first calls I received was from Jerry West. When I started my business, was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame, was named Lakers President of Basketball Operations – he would always pick up the phone and give me a personalized call to congratulate me. Beyond his basketball accolades as a basketball player and NBA executive, Jerry West was a great man, a leader of men, fiercely loved his family and friends, and despite holding jobs with other franchises, he was a Lakers fan for life.” — Magic Johnson, Lakers Hall of Famer, on X.


“I do not have the words at this moment to express how I feel. Great friend. Great competitor. Great for the game of basketball. Will always have love in my heart for number 44.” — Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson, West’s teammate on the 1960 U.S. Olympic team.


“Jerry West was an incredible and unique individual, having accomplished immeasurable heights in the game of basketball. He reached the absolute pinnacle of the sport as both a player and executive, something few can claim in the profession. He did so much for the NBA, the game of basketball and each of the teams he was associated with during his unmatched career, including the Warriors. Jerry had a profound and immense impact on our franchise and was instrumental in our recent decade of success.” — Joe Lacob, Golden State Warriors co-executive chairman and CEO.


“When you think of basketball, you think of Jerry West. From the coalfields of WV to the sport’s biggest stages, Jerry demonstrated his mastery of the sport with grace and humility. He was a world-class athlete, a proud West Virginian, and a great friend. Rest in peace, Jerry.” — Sen. Joe Manchin, I-W.Va., on X.


“The passing of Jerry West was a shock. The LOGO impacted every aspect of our sport. As a player, evaluator of talent, a GM and as president of the Grizzlies. We spent time together there and I learned more of him then. Our long conversations over the years were basketball classes for me. We mourn his sudden passing and send prayers to his family.” — University of Arkansas coach John Calipari.


“May my all-time first team shooting guard rest in peace knowing he paved the way for defining greatness on the hardwood, excellence in the front office and living life his way. Jerry is one of one and claims the right to be the logo forever. My condolences to his family.” — Hall of Famer Julius Erving.


“All I can say is we lost an absolute superstar in every way. I’m telling you. This is a good man. A man that loved West Virginia beyond good sense. A man that told me so many times that the people of West Virginia, what makes us what we are, is we’re real. He absolutely loved all of us.”— West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, who frequently was joined by West on hunting and fishing trips.


“The Dodgers mourn the passing of NBA Hall of Famer and Lakers legend Jerry West, an indelible figure on the Los Angeles sports landscape for more than 60 years. We send our most sincere condolences to his family and friends.” — the Los Angeles Dodgers.


“West’s profound impact on the NBA and the sport of basketball as a whole cannot be overstated. We are particularly appreciative of his efforts in Memphis, where he was a meaningful part of the community and served from 2002 to 2007 as president of basketball operations.” — the Memphis Grizzlies.



Reaction to the death of Jerry West, 'a basketball genius' (2024)


Why did Jerry West fall out with the Lakers? ›

Jerry Buss promised him many years ago. “It was a cold phone text to my wife. No one had the nerve to call me.” According to a report from Ethan Strauss, the biggest reason why the Lakers blacklisted Jerry West was that West took issue with owner Jeanie Buss dating then-head coach Phil Jackson.

Was Jerry West a PG or SG? ›

Jerry West played shooting guard and point guard.
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Does Jerry West have a ring? ›

Jerry West could have played more than 14 seasons but didn't want to "sacrifice my standards." Nine times in his 14 seasons West's Lakers made the finals: They lost eight, the first six times to the Celtics. He got his only NBA title in the Lakers' record-setting 1971-72 season, but championships never defined him.

Who is the silhouette in the NBA logo? ›

Jerry West, the player depicted in the NBA logo, is one of the most important figures in the history of the Lakers and the league as a whole.

Why did Jerry West stop playing basketball? ›

Without Chamberlain, who had ended his NBA career, the Lakers won 47 games and lost in five games to the Milwaukee Bucks. After this loss, West retired due to contract disagreements with Cooke, and filed a suit for unpaid back wages. West wanted to renegotiate his contract and keep playing.

Who became Lakers coach after Jerry West? ›

Darvin Ham has coached the Lakers from 2022-23 to 2023-24.
21Jack McKinney1980
22Jerry West1977-1979
23Bill Sharman1972-1976
24Joe Mullaney1970-1971
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What was Jerry West's vertical jump? ›

However, West soon impressed his colleagues with his defensive hustle, with his vertical jump—he could reach up 16 inches above the rim when he went up—and with his work ethic, spending countless extra hours working on his game.

How good was Jerry West? ›

West was at his best in the postseason, where he made the playoffs every year except 1971. He eclipsed the 40-point mark in 1965 and still holds the record for highest scoring average for a series. He averaged 46.3 points against Baltimore in the 1965 Western Division Finals.

Did Jerry West break his MVP trophy? ›

West's gripes with the show are many, but they all center around his belief Winning Time is selling viewers lies as truth. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar provided a statement in West's letter contending West never threw his 1969 NBA Finals MVP trophy through his office window or broke any golf clubs.

Does Jerry West get paid for the logo? ›

So no, Jerry West doesn't get any royalties from the famous logo. Apparently, this logo dispute will forever remain a myth unless the NBA comes out and fesses up to the truth. But West himself has repeatedly stated he believes the league will never acknowledge him as the logo man.

Is Jerry West a hall of famer? ›

Jerry West, Lakers legend, Hall of Famer and executive who was inspiration for NBA logo, dies at 86. Jerry West, the Hall of Fame player and executive who was the inspiration for the NBA logo, has died at age 86.

What are some fun facts about Jerry West? ›

A native of Chelyan, West Virginia, West grew up shooting at a basket nailed to the side of a shed and often shot until his fingers bled. He became the first high school player in state history to score more than 900 points in a season, averaging 32.2 points in leading East Bank High to a state title.

What does the Kobe logo mean? ›

Kobe has a geometric logo design that has been around since the beginning of his partnership with Nike in 2003. The abstract illustration is composed of six shapes that form an image of a sword sheath. Kobe explained in an interview that his talent is the sword and his life experiences stand as the sheath.

Who is the guy in the Jordan logo? ›

That young man was Michael Jordan, and his pose would go on to become the logo for the $6 billion brand that, to this day, bears his name.

When did Jerry West retire? ›

Why did Jerry West join the Clippers? ›

West said he came away impressed with their vision. He liked the front office that's spearheaded by Lawrence Frank, the Clippers' executive vice president of basketball operations. “The connection I made with the Clippers, immediately I felt great after that meeting,” West said.

Did Jerry West trade for Kobe? ›

West and Bryant's bond was a strong one: West had orchestrated the infamous 1996 trade that sent Vlade Divac to Charlotte for Bryant's draft rights.

What happened to Jerry West? ›

And so, the NBA is now missing a major contributor who helped shape the league. West died Wednesday at age 86. “I valued my friendship with Jerry and the knowledge he shared with me over many years about basketball and life.” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.

Why did the NBA pick Jerry West? ›

He chose West to be the logo, not because he was a superstar, but because he liked the image. Siegel said in a recent interview, "It's a really elegant, powerful presentation of basketball... It's hard, graphically, to do something that static like this.

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