Entries in Jerry West (4)


Newsday (N.Y.): Warriors’ Jerry West talks Muhammad Ali, Splash Brothers, LeBron

By Art Spander
Special to Newsday

OAKLAND, Calif. — Around him, on the floor of Oracle Arena, men from the team for which Jerry West now works as a consultant were shooting basketballs. And you knew West, who a few days ago turned 78, so wished he was one of them.

West, whose graceful dribble became the model for the NBA’s logo, is knowledgeable, opinionated, supportive, appreciative. In a way, he’s responsible for the success of the Warriors, who on Sunday night will attempt to build a 2-0 lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals.

Read the full story here.

Copyright © 2016 Newsday. All rights reserved.


The great Jerry West reflects on the great Kobe Bryant

By Art Spander

OAKLAND — This was one of the greatest, the Logo, the man whose silhouette is the emblem of the NBA, Jerry West, who said his own farewell so many 40 years ago, talking so glowingly, acting the fan as much as the expert, reflecting, praising another about to enter retirement, Kobe Bryant.

Those of us of a certain age inevitably link past with present, perhaps too much because memories often outshine reality. West and I broke in together, the fall of 1960, in far different professions but very close connections, he a rookie for the Los Angeles Lakers, I a rookie with the wire service United Press International.

He wasn’t yet “Mr. Clutch,” but he already was Mr. Reliable, and from press row, on the floor in those days, his skills were unavoidable.

It was fascinating Thursday night to hear West, now an executive with the Warriors, discuss the brilliance of Bryant, whom West, then the Lakers' general manager, maneuvered to make L.A.’s surprising No. 1 pick in the 1996 NBA draft.

This was Kobe’s night, his final appearance at Oracle Arena as a player, and despite a sore right Achilles tendon, Bryant did start — after pointing out, “I think the fans deserve that effort from me” — and scored just eight points in the Lakers' 116-98 loss to the Warriors.

This was also West’s night. He was Kobe years before Kobe, and what Jerry prized in himself — a love of the game, unshackled intensity, greatness under the spotlight — he prized even more in Bryant.

West and Bryant are one and the same, 40 years apart, driven, almost obsessed and, of course, unbelievably talented. You couldn’t stop West as he drove toward the basket or tossed up a jumper. You couldn’t stop Bryant. How many times did Kobe hit that winning basket when everyone in the place knew he would take the shot?

“We got what I thought was the No. 1 player in the draft, Kobe Bryant,” said West, “17 years old, and it wasn’t in vogue to draft 17-year-old kids yet ... I think the one thing that was very evident to me right away was that, from my perspective, at 17 years old, I’d never seen anyone with the skill level that he had.”

So the Lakers traded their center Vlade Divac to Charlotte for the 13th pick in that ’96 draft, and got someone West said “was a showman but he was also a winner, and he has left a legacy throughout the world ... One of the things I admired most about him from a distance, because I wasn’t there any longer, was his ability to play when other players would simply not play. He would play through things that other players just wouldn’t.”

These farewell tours have their purpose, even if the man or woman being honored is not what he or she used to be. Some 10-year-old is presented an opportunity that would never come again. Even if Kobe has a one-for-14 night, as he did at Oracle in November, the kid saw him.

If a 37-year-old Kobe Bryant, a 39-year-old Peyton Manning or a 40-year-old Tiger Woods are not what they used to be, they’re still trying, still living the dream, still fighting against what the future holds. West, 77, understands. After a sporting career, life can be an endless search for stability.

“I told Kobe tonight — I had a little time to spend with him — when I left the game, I could have played more,” said West. “I could have played at a very high level, too. I could not play at the level everyone wanted me to play. And I was not willing to compromise what I felt was a standard I had established in this league. The thing that people don’t realize is that players who play the game at a very high level put an awful lot of pressure and stress on themselves every day to come out and try to make the team win.

“ ... I’m not comparing myself to Kobe at all. I’m just telling you, if we lost I always felt it was always my fault, my fault because I felt could have done more. It took me a year, frankly, to realize what an enormous burden had been lifted off my shoulders.”

Bryant’s shoulders still look strong as he finishes his NBA record — and last — 20th season. His legs do not, however, and that’s why he’s struggled on the floor. West reminds us that a different sort of struggle is ahead of Bryant, replacing basketball with another challenge, difficult for any athlete, particularly one as famed as Bryant.

“This has been a remarkable player,” said West of Bryant, “a player for the decades, simply one of the greatest that ever played the game.”

As judged by one of the greatest who ever played the game.


SF Examiner: Warriors make a major change, but will it be progress?

By Art Spander
Special to The Examiner

So, isn’t that a heck of a deal for the Warriors, trading one of the NBA’s best scorers, Monta Ellis, to Milwaukee for a tall Australian with a broken ankle?   But hey, it proves the front office is willing to make moves, and didn’t Dante say something like, in times of moral crisis, the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who stand around using a zone defense?

The suspicion is the W’s could suit up five guys from Mosswood Park in Oakland and still sell out Oracle Arena, as they did Wednesday night against the Boston Celtics — Monta or no Monta, and certainly no Andrew Bogut, the Aussie with the ankle.

Read the full story here.

Copyright 2012 SF Newspaper Company


RealClearSports: Warriors Make a Legendary Hire

By Art Spander

SAN FRANCISCO — He's always had what was required, as a player with a last-second jump shot — Jerry West wasn't nicknamed "Mr. Clutch for nothing — as an executive with a draft day trade for the rights to Kobe Bryant.

"A tremendous amount of good fortune,'' advised West, "can happen for a risk taker.''

A risk taker who knows the territory, which Jerry West certainly does.

Read the full story here.

© RealClearSports 2011