People-Jerry West, inspiration for NBA logo, dies aged 86

By Thomson Reuters Jun 12, 2024 | 10:55 AM

(Reuters) – Jerry West, widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all-time whose silhouette was the inspiration for the National Basketball Association’s logo, has died at the age of 86.

The Los Angeles Clippers, where he worked as an executive, confirmed the death on Wednesday, saying the 14-times NBA all-star passed away peacefully with his wife Karen by his side.

“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.

“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’.”

West, who played as a shooting guard, led the Los Angeles Lakers to nine NBA Finals but only once hoisted the championship trophy.

He remains the only person named most valuable player of the championship series despite playing for the losing team having won the award in 1969.

Taken with the second overall pick in the 1960 NBA draft by the Minneapolis Lakers before the team relocated to Los Angeles, West became the third player to reach 25,000 points and retired holding the records for career post-season scoring and the highest average in a playoff series.

West was co-captain of the 1960 U.S. men’s basketball team which won the Olympic gold medal.

Nicknamed “Mr Clutch”, the sharp-shooting West was inducted in the Basketball Hall of fame as a player in 1980 and will be honoured again later this year when he is enshrined as a contributor.

West went on to become one of the NBA’s top executives.

As general manager and executive vice president of the Lakers he built eight championship teams, showing a shrewd eye for talent by drafting Magic Johnson before bringing in Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.

He also had front office stints with the Memphis Grizzlies, the Golden State Warriors and the Clippers, twice being named the NBA’s executive of the year.

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto, Editing by Ed Osmond)