Jerry West, who inspried the NBA logo, has passed away at age 86

Sportem
Sportem
5 Min Read

This past Wednesday was a dark day for the basketball world, as it was announced that legend Jerry West had died at the age of 86. The Hall of Famer, who inspired the NBA logo, was not only a great athlete, but also a renowned club executive. 

Today he is best known as “The Logo,” as a photo fo him from Sport magazine eventually became the basis for the silhouette that has symbolised the league for 55 years already. Back in 2011, Jerry’s statue was unveiled outside of Staples Center, which used to be the name for the Lakers’ arena.

Despite him being recognized for representing the league with his figure, Celtics legend Bill Russell once set the record straight. “As you all know, Jerry is the logo man, but to us [players], Jerry was not a silhouette. He was a man with a soul,” he assured.

He was a man of many nicknames, some calling him “Tweety Bird,” “Zeke from Cabin Creek,” or even “Mr. Clutch,” which is probably the best as it is self explanatory. “Jerry West was the best clutch player I ever saw, the best shooter, and one of the best competitors,” Oscar Robertson wrote in his memoir.

“His biggest talent, perhaps, was emerging at the right moment to take advantage of a well-timed pick or pass,” the Hall of Famer added. “Jerry hated to lose so much that you could see it transform him. Jerry and I were friends, but our rivalry was intense.”

Many consider West’s most famous clutch shot to be his 60-foot buzzer beater in Game 3 of the 1970 NBA Finals against the Knicks, when time stood still and everyone thought he was crazy for making this shot. “The man’s crazy,” rival guard Clyde Frazier thought to himself. “He looks determined. He thinks it’s really going in!”

According to Jerry’s side of the story, he took his chances but never really thought the ball would actually go in. “I said, ‘Oh my god, it’s pretty straight,’” he recalled when asked by the press. “You just never think it’s going to go in.”

Both NBA Finals coaches have expressed their profound admiration for Jerry West ahead of Game 3 in Dallas

Just as we were preparing for last night’s Game 3 between the Celtics and Mavericks, both team’s coaches received the news of West’s death and were asked to share their thoughts on his passing. Jason Kidd and Joe Mazzulla happened to have plenty of stories that involved the Hall of Famer, which demonstrated his greatness.

“One of the stories (I have is) when I was with the Nets and Rod Thorn and we’re going to Memphis to play Memphis and I’d never seen a grown man drool before. I asked Rod why was he drooling and he’s like, ‘That’s my idol’. I was like looking for Michael Jordan, but Michael wasn’t anywhere close and I said, ‘Jerry West?’,” the Mavericks tactician recalled.

As for the Celtics coach, he also reminisced on a moment that changed his career forever. “It’s tough to lose him. Obviously, praying for Karen, Jonnie, and Ryan, and the rest of their family. My junior year in college I wasn’t living up to anyone’s standards and I got a call and it’s Jerry.

“A lot of expletives, but essentially told me that I was an F up and was ruining an opportunity to be great at something and just let me have it for like 10-15 minutes. I thought it was one of the most impactful phone calls that I had really in my life,” Mazzulla expressed.



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