Jerry West, Lakers legend, Hall of Famer and executive who was inspiration for NBA logo, dies at 86

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Wednesday, June 12, 2024
Jerry West, Lakers legend who inspired the NBA logo, dies at 86
Jerry West, the Hall of Fame player and executive who was the inspiration for the NBA logo, has died at age 86.

LOS ANGELES -- Jerry West, the Hall of Fame player and executive who was the inspiration for the NBA logo, has died at age 86.

The Los Angeles Clippers, who West was currently working for in a front office role, announced Wednesday he passed away peacefully with his wife, Karen, by his side.

West, nicknamed "Mr. Clutch" for his late-game exploits as a player, went into the Hall of Fame as a player in 1980 and again as a member of the 1960 U.S. Olympic Team in 2010. He will be enshrined for a third time later this year as a contributor.

West was "the personification of basketball excellence and a friend to all who knew him," the Clippers said.

He was a 14-time All-Star, a 12-time All-NBA selection, part of the 1972 Lakers team that won a championship, an NBA Finals MVP as part of a losing team in 1969 and was selected as part of the NBA's 75th anniversary team.

West was general manager of eight NBA championship teams with the Los Angeles Lakers, helping build the "Showtime" dynasty. He also worked in the front offices of the Memphis Grizzlies, the Golden State Warriors and the Clippers.

Among his many, many highlights as an executive with the Lakers: he drafted Magic Johnson and James Worthy, then brought in Kobe Bryant and eventually Shaquille O'Neal to play alongside Bryant.

Even in the final years of his life, West was considered basketball royalty. He routinely sat courtside at Summer League games in Las Vegas, often watching many games in a day while greeting long lines of players - LeBron James among them - who would approach to shake his hand and pay him respect.

"The game transcends many things," West said while attending Summer League last year. "The players change, the style of play may change, but the respect that you learn in this game never changes."

He's 25th on the NBA's all-time scoring list, and while the league has never confirmed that West was in fact the model for its logo - a player dribbling a ball, set against a red-and-blue background - the league has never said otherwise, either.

"While it's never been officially declared that the logo is Jerry West," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in 2021, "it sure looks a lot like him."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.