Since the Los Angeles Lakers moved to Southern California in 1960, Jerry West has played a crucial role in the franchise’s history, as a player, coach and General Manager.
So, let's take a look back at the career of not only one of the the greatest Lakers of all-time, but one of the greatest players to play the game of basketball.
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The Minneapolis Lakers selected Jerry West with the second overall pick in the 1960 NBA Draft.
Had the Lakers not selected West, it’s possible he nor the franchise would be as accomplished and respected as they are today.
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1972 was a great year for Jerry West and the Los Angeles Lakers. The team went on a 33-game winning streak, en route to winning their first championship since moving to Los Angeles. Also, Jerry West was named All-Star Game MVP.
Even better, the game was held in Los Angeles that season. So, “Mr. Clutch” was rewarded in front of the hometown fans.
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Prior to the 1982-83 season, Jerry West became General Manager of the Los Angeles Lakers.
West played a hand in building both the “Showtime” dynasty of the 1980s and the Kobe/Shaq dynasty of the early 2000s.
West stayed GM of the team until 2002.
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Jerry West was selected to the All-Defensive First Team four times and All-Defensive Second Team once.
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Jerry West spent 14 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, being selected to the All-Star team in each season.
In the 12 games West played in, the West Virginia alum averaged 13 points a game.
Averaging 30.1 points per game, Jerry West led the NBA in scoring for the 1969-70 season. West also ranked fourth in assists that season, averaging seven a contest.
Throughout his 14-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, Jerry West made a total of 12 All-NBA Teams, 10 first team selections and two second team selections.
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In 1983, the Los Angeles Lakers retired Jerry West’s No. 44 jersey. West is one of seven Lakers players to have their jersey retired, including Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Gail Goodrich, James Worthy and Elgin Baylor.
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In Game 3 of the 1970 NBA Finals, Jerry West hit one of the most iconic shots in postseason history.
In the waning seconds, West hit a half-court shot that sent the game into overtime. Unfortunately, the three-pointer had not been adopted yet, so the shot only counted as two points.
The Lakers would eventually lose the game and the series in seven games to the New York Knicks.
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In February 2011, a statue of Jerry West was revealed outside of Staples Center. West joined Magic Johnson and Chick Hearn as the only former Lakers to have statutes erected.
Jerry West retired from the game of basketball following the 1973-74 season. West finished his career averaging 27 points, six assists and five rebounds.
Only Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor have retired with a higher or equal scoring average.
In his 14 year career with the franchise, Jerry West amassed 25,192 career points, which was the most points in team history until Kobe Bryant surpassed the mark in February 2010.
In 1980, Jerry West was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
In 1996, in honor of the NBA turning 50, the league announced its 50 greatest players of all-time. To no surprise, Jerry West was named as one of the top 50.
In the summer of 1996, Jerry West made his biggest splash as General Manager of the Los Angeles Lakers.
West played a vital role in signing Shaquille O’Neal as a free agent and trading for high school standout Kobe Bryant. Kobe and Shaq would win three championships together, establishing themselves as one of the best duos in league history.
During the 1965 postseason, Jerry West averaged 46 points per game in the opening round series against the Baltimore Bullets.
For the third time in four seasons, the Boston Celtics defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals.
But Jerry West had one of the most, if not the most, impressive postseasons in league history, averaging 40 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Yes, Jerry West only won one championship despite making nine appearances in the NBA Finals. But win, lose or draw, leading your team to nine appearances on the game’s biggest stage is quite impressive.
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That’s right, that famous silhouette you see in the NBA logo is none other than Jerry West’s.
Early in the 1971-72 season, the Los Angeles Lakers started a 33-game winning streak, which is still a record. The streak easily shattered the previous record of 20, set by the Milwaukee Bucks the season before.
The Lakers would go on to defeat the New York Knicks in the NBA Finals later that season. It would be the first of 11 championships the franchise has won since moving to Los Angeles.
Despite the Los Angeles Lakers once again coming up short against the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals, Jerry West was named MVP of the 1969 series, averaging 30 points, three rebounds and seven assists for the entire postseason.
Very likely the first and last time a player will ever be selected as MVP from the losing team.
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After playing the role of “bridesmaid” in seven previous NBA Finals, Jerry West and the Los Angeles Lakers finally got over the proverbial hump in 1972, defeating the New York Knicks in five games.
The championship was the franchise’s first since moving to Los Angeles.