My Boyhood Sports Icons Are Dying: Jerry West


I’ve always lived in Southern California — mostly in Orange County, south of LA. If you lived somewhere else, it’s probably not possible to describe what Jerry West meant to Los Angeles.

It starts with what the Lakers mean to Los Angeles and then what West meant to the Lakers, as a Hall of Fame player, and then as a coach and general manager. Yes, there’s another professional basketball team in Los Angeles but only a few misfits care about them. Quality of life in Los Angeles is determined in large part by how well the Lakers are playing.

West was synonymous with Laker basketball for 40 years. You could say that after West retired as a player, the Lakers were synonymous with Showtime, Magic Johnson, Kareem, James Worthy, and later with Kobe and Shaq and Phil Jackson. But West assembled the Showtime teams, acquired Kobe in a draft day trade for Vlade Divac, signed Shaq as a free agent and Jackson as coach.

Every time I heard him speak, he impressed me as a true gentleman and competitor.

RIP Jerry West

Jerry West with Kobe Bryant

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