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Jerry West

NBA Champion
NBA Finals MVP
NBA All-Star
All-Defensive Team

Things to Know

If “came in clutch” was a person.

Along with Oscar Robertson, Jerry West was one of the leading guards of his era. He was a dominant two-way force who helped modernize the position with an elite jumper, deft playmaking and outstanding defense. He is the only player from a losing team to be named Finals MVP and was one of the best scorers in NBA and Los Angeles Lakers history.

"Mr. Clutch" was lauded for raising his game in the playoffs, where he boosted his career scoring average by 2.1 points to 29.1 ppg. That includes a 53-point outburst in 1969 that remains fourth-best in Finals history.

West is also known to many as "The Logo" after his image was used as inspiration for the NBA's current emblem. A multifaceted player, West led the NBA in scoring in 1969-70 (31.2 ppg) and assists in 1971-72 (9.7 apg).

An All-American at West Virginia, West was the Most Outstanding Player at the 1959 Final Four as a junior despite a one-point loss to California in the championship game. It was an unfortunate preview of things to come in the NBA, where West's Lakers would go 1-9 in The Finals.

Teamed with fellow Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor to form one of the greatest scoring tandems in NBA history, averaging at least 24 points apiece in eight seasons together during the 1960s. Baylor still has the third-highest scoring average in NBA history at 27.4 points per game, while West sits fourth at 27.0.

West's lone NBA championship came in 1972, when the Lakers capped their record 69-win season with a 4-1 victory over the New York Knicks as he averaged 19.8 ppg and 8.8 apg. The Lakers also won an NBA-record 33 straight games in the 1971-72 season.

West became, to date, the only player to be named Finals MVP from the team that lost the series after averaging 37.9 ppg and 7.4 apg as the Lakers fell 4-3 to the rival Boston Celtics in 1969. That included a 42-point, 13-rebound, 12-assist outburst in Game 7 for what was then the only the second triple-double in Finals history.

He made one of the most famous shots in NBA history with a 60-foot buzzer-beater to force overtime against the Knicks in Game 3 of the 1970 Finals. (It was yet another defining moment of West's star-crossed career, in which the Lakers lost the game despite his 34 points, and eventually the series in seven.)

An indication of his defensive prowess, West averaged 2.6 steals and 0.7 blocks per game as a 36-year-old in 1973-74, the first season both stats were kept in the NBA. He retired after that campaign with 25,192 career points, a Lakers record that has since been surpassed only by West's star pupil, Kobe Bryant.

West followed his playing career by becoming one of the most successful front office executives in NBA history with eight championships, including four as the Lakers' general manager. In addition to maintaining the their fabled "Showtime" run in the 1980s, West acquired Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal during the same offseason in 1996 to set the stage for their future three-peat from 2000-02.

After 40 years with the Lakers in the front office, West retired but became president of basketball operations for the Memphis Grizzlies. Under his watch, they were a playoff team from 2004-06. After that, he served as a team executive by the Golden State Warriors (in 2011) and LA Clippers (in 2017) to help them build their rosters.


NBA 75th Anniversary Team: Jerry West

NBA 75th Anniversary Team: Jerry West

Best Shooting Guards: Jerry West

Best Shooting Guards: Jerry West



* Through the 2020-21 season

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Selected for being pioneers that have helped shape, define, and redefine the game. This is the NBA 75th Anniversary Team.