NBA legend Jerry West dies at 86

Jerry West

Jerry West, the NBA legend who inspired the league’s iconic logo, has died, officials with the Los Angeles Clippers announced Wednesday. He was 86.

The Clippers said West died with his wife, Karen, by his side. The team called him “the personification of basketball excellence and a friend to all who knew him.”

The Clippers hired West as a consultant in 2017.

From 1960 to 1974, West played 15 seasons for the Los Angeles Lakers, earning the nickname “Mr. Clutch” for his late-game exploits, CBS Sports and The Associated Press reported.

“When the chips were down, West, with his lightning-quick release, was the guy the Lakers turned to for the big basket,” according to NBA.com. “Many players have been tagged with the nickname ‘Mr. Clutch,’ but none of them lived up to it as well as West did. He was responsible for perhaps the most famous buzzer-beater of all time: a 60-foot swish that tied Game 3 of the 1970 NBA Finals against the New York Knicks.”

For each year of his career with the Lakers, the 6-foot-3 guard was an All-Star. Nine times, he led the team to the NBA Finals.

Jerry West

Three years after his retirement, West returned as head coach of the Lakers for three seasons. From 1982 to 1994, he served as the team’s general manager, helping to build the team’s “Showtime” era and seeing the Lakers to four championship wins, the Los Angeles Times reported. He worked in the team’s front office until 2000, during which time he was credited with drafting players like Magic Johnson and James Worthy, acquiring Kobe Bryant, signing Shaquille O’Neal and hiring head coach Phil Jackson, according to the NBA.

From 2002 to 2007, he served as general manager of the Memphis Grizzlies before he returned to California as an executive with the Golden State Warriors. The team won two NBA championships, one in 2015 and another in 2017, during his time as an executive.

“Jerry West was a basketball genius and a defining figure in our league for more than 60 years,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement obtained by NBC Sports, calling him “a consummate competitor who embraced the biggest moments.”

“I valued my friendship with Jerry and the knowledge he shared with me over many years about basketball and life,” he added. “On behalf of the NBA, we send our deepest condolences to Jerry’s wife, Karen, his family and his many friends in the NBA community.”

West was named to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame three times: in 1980 as a player, in 2010 as a member of the 1960 U.S. Olympic Team and in 2024 as a contributor. Officials noted that he is the first Hall of Famer to be inducted as both a player and a contributor.

West is survived by his wife and five sons, Fox Sports reported.

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