A SYMBOL used to recognize and identify something and done in figures or in abstract form is commonly called a logo.

We see them everywhere – on the clothes and shoes we wear, on the labels of the food we eat, practically anything that we set our sights on, logos will be on target.

NBA fans generally know that the league’s logo is of Los Angeles Laker legend Jerry West and it was conceived in 1969 when a rival league, the American Basketball Association, was threatening the fan base.  Going thru old issues of Sport magazine, a photo of Jerry West was chosen which resulted in a white silhouette on a red and white background.  The same logo had been in use up to now, surviving the effects of time and identifying one of the most popular sports leagues in the world.

West played his entire career with the Lakers from 1960 to 1974 and though he only had one NBA title (1972), his accomplishments as a player were stellar.  He was the first awardee of the Finals MVP (1969), the only player to win the award from a losing finalist. He averaged 38 points in that championship series against Boston and had a triple-double in the deciding Game 7. He was so disheartened after the game that Bill Russell came over to console him.

Retiring from the game at age 36 after 14 seasons, West coached the Lakers from 1976 to 1979, worked for the team as a scout and became General Manager in 1982 which saw the rise of the Showtime Era and the Laker dynasty that brought the franchise five titles (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988).  He was responsible for trading for Kobe Bryant on draft day, signing free agent Shaquille O’Neal and hiring Phil Jackson as coach which became the framework for the Laker three-peat (2000 to 2002).  It was with his 20-year tenure with LAL that he won his first Executive of the Year Award and six championships.

Wanting to make a non-winning franchise achieve success, he moved to Memphis in 2002 and there he transformed the Grizzlies into a consistent playoff contender and in two years won his second Executive of the Year Award.  He retired in 2007 from the franchise.

On May 2011 West joined the Golden State Warriors as member of the executive board with a minority ownership share.  He spent six years with GSW and helped them be a record-breaking team and was with them when they won the NBA titles in 2015 and 2017.   West was widely credited for bringing in Kevin Durant.  He left the franchise that same year because he felt that his influence was fading.

He would have wanted to return to the Lakers and before Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka came into the picture, West was excited of the potential homecoming.  But Jeannie Buss had a different vision for the future and opted for the Magic-and-Rob duo.  And we all know what happened. 

We can only imagine all the what-could-have-been had West been making the decisions for LAL the past two years.  It was not a good idea to dismiss a franchise icon having the brains to make multiple championships as team executive.

West is now 81 years old and is back in Los Angeles but with the Clippers.  People are pointing to him as responsible for Kawhi Leonard and Paul George bringing their talents to the Clips but he’s not accepting the credit, instead acknowledging the hard work of the people at the LAC front office.  He said that with the superstar pairings on the two LA teams, the game would “really be fun for fans” in Los Angeles.

This is what real team executives do – silently doing things, no media leaks, no interviews, no drama.

Respected sportswriter and sportscaster David Aldridge ranked West second only to the Boston Celtics legend Red Auerbach who coached and managed the team to 17 NBA titles.

“Forty-five years after he retired as a player, Jerry West’s word is still gold in the NBA,” Aldridge said.  Obviously, Jeannie Buss heard and seen differently of The Logo./PN


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