[Editor's Note: OK, so SoCalGal is hardly just another member of SSR, but her latest Did You Know post went up in the dark of night, and probably didn't get near the amount of eyeballs it deserved. On Feature Our Members day, we get to rectify that oversight]
Jerry West, a.k.a. Zeke from Cabin Creek, a.k.a. Mr. Outside (Elgin Baylor was Mr. Inside), a.k.a. Mr. Clutch, a.k.a. The Logo, is one of the most beloved figures in basketball. In honor of his most deserving statue unveiling during this week's All Star festivities, here is a special DYK feature.
Jerry West worked for the Los Angeles Lakers organization for more than 40 years, first as a player, then as a coach, and finally as General Manager. Today, it's almost unheard of for someone to work for the same company for such a long time. But Jerry did it with enthusiasm, and pride, and he loved it, even though he hated watching the team play. We're glad he stuck around.
- Full name is Jerry Alan West; born May 28, 1938, the fifth of six children, in Chelyan, WV; should we start calling him JAWs?
- He was so small and frail as a child that he needed vitamin injections to keep him from getting seriously hurt.
- At East Bank High School, he was named All-State from 1953–56; All-American in 1956, when he was also named West Virginia Player of the Year; became the state's first high-school player to score more than 900 points in a season, averaging 32.2 points per game.
- At West Virginia University, his freshman team went 17-0 for the season; in his junior year he averaged 29.3 PPG, 16.5 RPG, 50.4% shooting (76.6% FTS), while getting 134 assists; he also had 30 double-doubles and 15 30-point games
- He currently holds 12 WVU all-time records, and in 1960, he co-captained (with Oscar Robertson) the U.S. men's basketball team at the 1960 Summer Olympics which won the gold medal
- He made himself eligible for the 1960 NBA Draft and was chosen second overall by the Minneapolis Lakers, who soon relocated to Los Angeles; that team included Elgin Baylor, Jim Krebs, Ray Felix, Rudy LaRusso, Tommy Hawkins, Rod Hundley, Frank Selvy, and Bob Leonard
- One of his earliest nicknames was Tweety Bird because of his high-pitched voice; Elgin Baylor told him,"Rumors are safe with you, Tweety Bird. You pass them on, but nobody can understand you."
- Chick Hearn game him the nickname Mr. Clutch
- He averaged 46.3 PPG, still an NBA record, during the first round of the 1965 Playoffs against the Baltimore Bullets; the Lakers lost in the Finals to the Boston Celtics for the third time
- Despite losing to the Celtics in the 1969 Finals (for the sixth time--FUCK!), and posting a triple double of 42 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists, Jerry West became the first and only player from the losing team to win Finals MVP
- The '71-'72 Lakers won a still-record 33 games in a row, and ended the season at 69-13, a record they held until the '95-'96 Bulls went 72-10.
- The Lakers' championship drought lasted 18 years, with their last title coming in Minneapolis in 1954, before they won as the Los Angeles Lakers in 1972; Jerry West said, "I played terrible basketball in the Finals, and we won… It was particularly frustrating because I was playing so poorly that the team overcame me. Maybe that's what a team is all about." This was Jerry's only championship
- Jerry retired after the '73-'74 season, at age 36; that season he averaged 20.3 PPG, 3.7 RPG, and 6.6 APG; sadly, his career ended on a sour note, with a lawsuit filed against Jack Kent Cooke for unpaid back wages--"I felt I was deceived. When you feel that you’re deceived you don’t want any part of the organization that deceived you. I could’ve played another very good year. Every athlete says that. But I could’ve, and I knew I could’ve. But I could never have played for the Lakers again, and I wasn’t going to play for anybody else."
- He coached the Lakers from '76-'79, when Jerry Buss bought the team; he then worked as a scout until becoming GM in 1982; during his tenure as GM, he built the Showtime dynasty that won 5 championships, and then rebuilt the team with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal on the floor and Phil Jackson as coach; that team won three straight championships from '00-'02
- In his 14-year career, Jerry West was a 14-time All Star, 12-time All NBA Team member, and 5-time All Defensive Team member
- He scored 25,192 points, had 6,238 assists, and 5,366 rebounds in 932 games, averaging 27.0 PPG, 6.7 APG, and 5.8 RPG
- His silhouette is the NBA logo and has been since the '71-'72 season
- On February 17, 2007, a bronze statue of Jerry West was placed outside the WVU Coliseum; exactly four years later, February 17, 2011, a bronze statue of Jerry was placed outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles. No one deserves it more.
- He's been married twice and has five children, all boys (David, Mark, Michael, Ryan and Jonnie)
- He considers his older brother David his hero and credits him with his success--he named his oldest son after him; David was killed in combat during the Korean War when Jerry was 12
Thank you, Jerry, for all you've done, for the Lakers, and for the game of basketball.
So, what do you know about Jerry West?