The Men who Led the Lakers
Jerry West (1976-79)
We continue our ongoing series on the head coaches that have led the Lakers throughout the team's tenure in Los Angeles with a look at the three-year stint by Hall of Famer Jerry West, who manned the sidelines between his legendary playing and managing careers:
JERRY WEST: 1976-79
Two years removed from one of the greatest playing careers in NBA history, Jerry West took over for the coach that led him to his first championship, Bill Sharman, on the Lakers sideline.
For the majority of Wests career as a scoring guard, the Lakers never had a center capable of contending with Bostons Bill Russell, and it wasnt until Wilt Chamberlains move to L.A. that West finally won that first title, in 1972. However, as a coach, the leagues best center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was already wearing purple and gold.
Behind Kareem, West led the Lakers to the playoffs in each of his three seasons, amassing a 145-101 record and reaching the Western Conference Finals in 1977 before losing to the future champion Portland Trail Blazers of Dr. Jack Ramsey and Bill Walton.
In the following season, Kareem posted averages or 25.8 points, 12.9 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 3.0 blocks as the Lakers went 45-37, but the help he got from Adrian Dantley, James Edwards and Norm Nixon wasnt enough to get by Seattle in the first round of the playoffs.
Strong again up front the following season behind Abdul-Jabbar, Dantley and Jamaal Wilkes, the Lakers didnt give West enough out of the backcourt to handle eventual champion Seattle in the Western Semis, losing to Jack Sikma, Dennis Johnson and Co. four games to one.
That would be it for West as a head coach; it was on to the scouting trail for three seasons before his eventual hiring as the Lakers General Manager prior to the 1982-83 season.
LAKERS COACHING RECORD:
Regular Season: 145-101 (.589)
Playoffs: 8-14 (.364)
Total: 153-115 (.571)