The Man Behind The Logo: Jerry West


Jerry West has passed away this morning at 86 years old.

West, known as “The Logo” due to his silhouette being the basis for the NBA logo, was a towering figure in basketball both on and off the court. His career spanned over decades, leaving an indelible mark on the sport.

Born on May 28, 1938, in Chelyan, West Virginia, West’s journey began at East Bank High School and later at West Virginia University. There, he led the Mountaineers to the 1959 NCAA championship game and earned the NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player honor.

West’s professional career was nothing short of stellar. Drafted by the Minneapolis Lakers in 1960, shortly before the team relocated to Los Angeles, he played for the franchise for 14 years. He was a 14-time NBA All-Star and led the Lakers to the NBA Finals nine times. His career was punctuated by numerous accolades, including an NBA championship in 1972, an NBA Finals MVP in 1969, and being a 10-time All-NBA First Team honoree.

After hanging up his sneakers, West took on the role of coach for the Lakers from 1976 to 1979. His executive career was equally impressive, contributing to eight NBA championships with various teams and earning the NBA Executive of the Year award twice.

In 1982, West took over as the general manager of the Los Angeles Lakers and was instrumental in building the “Showtime Lakers,” a team that captivated the basketball world with their fast-paced, glamorous style of play. Under his leadership, the Lakers refined their roster, which had already won the 1980 title, into an even more formidable team. This squad would go on to defeat the Celtics in the 1985 Finals and become the first team in 20 years to repeat as NBA champions in 1987 and 1988.

Jerry West’s vision continued into the late 1990s when he orchestrated the assembly of another Lakers dynasty. He was the mastermind behind bringing Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant together, laying the foundation for a team that would dominate the early 2000s. The trade of Vlade Divac for Kobe Bryant’s draft rights created the necessary cap space, and the signing of Shaquille O’Neal as a free agent from Orlando Magic set the stage for a new era. This dynamic duo, under the coaching of Phil Jackson, led the Lakers to a three-peat, winning NBA championships in 2000, 2001, and 2002.

Jerry West’s foresight and strategic moves as a general manager solidified his legacy not just as a great player, but also as one of the most astute architects in the history of the NBA. His contributions to the Lakers’ success during these two distinct eras are a testament to his profound understanding of the game and his ability to construct championship-caliber teams.

His contributions to basketball were recognized with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2019. West was also named to the NBA anniversary teams (35th, 50th, 75th) and had his No. 44 jersey retired by both the Los Angeles Lakers and West Virginia Mountaineers.

Jerry West’s silhouette as the NBA logo is a fitting tribute to a man who was a symbol of excellence in basketball. His legacy will continue to inspire future generations of athletes and fans alike.

Jerry West’s life and career are a testament to his exceptional skill, leadership, and impact on the game of basketball. His story is one of triumph, resilience, and an unwavering commitment to excellence, making him one of the true legends of the sport. Our thoughts are with his loved ones. Rest in peace, Jerry!

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