Jerry West Isn’t Sure It’s Him on the NBA Logo, Still

The NBA legend talks about being a “sensitive” fan of Wilt Chamberlain, not hoarding any souvenirs, and appreciating the current game.

Though it’s difficult to believe today, the Los Angeles Lakers formerly had difficulty winning titles. Following their 1960 relocation from Minneapolis to Los Angeles, the Lakers failed to advance past their first seven NBA Finals appearances. The purple and gold didn’t finally get over the hump until 1971–1972, the fourth season under Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain’s leadership, bringing the inaugural Larry O’Brien trophy to a city that now has twelve of trophies.

 

Goliath, the Showtime documentary about Chamberlain’s life, and Sotheby’s auction of Chamberlain’s uniform from the series’ championship game have put the ’72 squad back in the public eye more than 50 years later. At least $4 million is predicted to be paid for the historic jersey—more than players like Chamberlain and West, who essentially altered the course of the game, ever made in a single season as active players.

West had a successful tenure as the Lakers’ general manager after retiring in 1974 and going on to become the team’s head coach. After that, he was hired as general manager of the Memphis Grizzlies. However, a few years before the Golden State Warriors’ own dynasty began to flourish, West joined them as a consultant and added a few more rings to his collection. He is still employed by the Los Angeles Clippers as a consultant and executive board member in the NBA today, despite being 85 years old. During a lengthy, meandering chat, West discussed his connection with Wilt the Stilt, the modern game, and the fact that he has no idea where any of his game-used stuff has disappeared to.

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