Jerry West, inspiration for NBA logo, dies aged 86


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 in 1974 holding the records for career post-season scoring and the highest average in a playoff series.

West was co-captain of the 1960 US men's basketball team that won the Olympic gold medal. In 2019 West was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by US President Donald Trump.

The sharp-shooting West was inducted into 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.

"As a player and an executive, his profound impact on the game of basketball is matched only by his character and integrity," said the Basketball Hall of Fame in a statement.

After his playing career, West, whose other nickname was "The Logo" went on to become one of the NBA's top executives.

As general manager and executive vice president of the Lakers he built six 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, where he won two more titles and the Clippers, twice being named the NBA's executive of the year.

News of West's death triggered an outpouring of tributes on social media from fans and the game's giants.

"Will truly miss our convos my dear friend! My thoughts and prayers goes out to your wonderful family! Forever love Jerry! Rest in Paradise my guy!," posted the Lakers' LeBron James, the NBA's all-time leading scorer, on X.

Michael Jordan offered his condolences, issuing an emotional statement through ESPN broadcaster Stephen A. Smith.

"I am so deeply saddened at the news of Jerry's passing," Jordan said in a statement. "He was truly a friend and a mentor. Like an older brother to me.

"I valued his friendship and knowledge. I always wished I could've played against him as a competitor, but the more I came to know him, I wish I had been his teammate.

"He will be forever missed. My condolences to his wife Karen and his sons. Rest in peace, Logo."

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