Jerry West. There was probably no basketball player who was so calmed and confident when the game was on the line.
There are just sooooo, many players who tried and tried to guard him but failed miserably.
He may not have been blessed with some particular strength or size (he’s only 6 foot 2 -188 cm) but his combination of the deadly jump shot, his will and determination to win and play despite pain (had his nose broken dozens of times), made him one of the most scary opponents to ever play the game.
He was “Mr. Clutch”. To say that he earned that nickname, that’s gonna be an understatement. Both, teammates and opponents knew that in those key moments, the ball is going the end up in West’s hands.
His famous left-handed dribbling has been used in the NBA’s logo. That famous basketball silhouette, is actually Jerry west.
Like so many basketball greats, he grew up in poverty. His dad was a coal mine electrician. The only way Jerry found to learn how to cope was with basketball. Often, during practicing he would get so carried away with the game that he forgot to eat.
The place where he grew up is West Virginia and that’s where he’s considered the greatest basketball player in West Virginia History. He entered the NBA in 1960 as the second pick. And in his entire 14 year career he played in the Lakers.
Throughout his career he led the Lakers in scoring and passing. Many many times he reached the NBA Finals but was swept away by Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics. No matter what happened, every player had tremendeous respect for him.
John Havlicek (great player and an opponent in the Boston Celtics), after winning the a championship, walked up to Jerry and said… “Jerry, I love you.” The only championship he won was in 1972.
Even though he played with Elgin Baylor most of the years in the Lakers, he could still average more than 30 points per game in four different seasons. Elgin Baylor was “Mr. Inside” and Jerry was “Mr. Outside”.
He also spent 5 years with Wilt Chamberlain. West once said that he learned that it was easier to score late in the game than earlier.
He’s also a proud owner of the 1960 Olympic gold in Rome where he co-captained his team with Oscar Robertson.