LeBron James Shares Heartfelt Tribute to NBA and Lakers Legend Jerry West, Dead at 86

Jerry West, one of the greatest players in NBA history and the architect of the 1980s Lakers dynasty, passed away Wednesday morning at the age of 86, the Clippers announced. The cause of death has not been disclosed. His wife, Karen, was by his side when he passed.

West, whose silhouette is famously used for the NBA’s logo and who was affectionately nicknamed “Mr. Clutch,” had been serving as a consultant for the Clippers. His illustrious career, both on and off the court, left an indelible mark on the game of basketball.

 

Inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1980, West was an All-Star in every season of his 14-year playing career, all with the Lakers. He played a pivotal role in leading the team to an NBA championship in 1972, averaging 27 points, 6.7 assists, and 5.8 rebounds over his career. His remarkable achievements include making the All-NBA First Team 10 times, the All-Defensive First Team four times, and becoming the NBA scoring champion in 1970.

Born in Chelyan, West Virginia, Jerome Alan West played collegiately at West Virginia University, where he was a two-time first-team All-American. Drafted No. 2 overall by the Minneapolis Lakers in the 1960  NBA draft, West transitioned with the team to Los Angeles, where he solidified his legacy. After retiring as a player in 1974, he served as the Lakers’ head coach and later as their general manager, orchestrating the Showtime Lakers that secured five NBA championships in the 1980s.

LeBron James, the current Lakers star, expressed his deep sorrow and admiration in a moving tribute: “Jerry West was more than just a legend on the court; he was a visionary whose impact on the game will be felt for generations. His dedication to excellence and his relentless pursuit of greatness set a standard that all of us strive to reach. Rest in peace, Mr. Clutch. Your legacy will forever live on.”

 

 

West’s contributions to basketball were recognized at the highest levels, earning him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2019. He leaves behind his wife Karen, his sons Ryan and Jonnie from his second marriage, and three sons, David, Mark, and Michael, from his first marriage to Martha. His legacy, immortalized by his statue outside the Lakers’ arena and his retired No. 44 jersey, will continue to inspire and influence the world of basketball.

Jerry West’s passing is a profound loss for the basketball community, but his enduring influence and the countless lives he touched will ensure that his memory lives on.

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