Jerry West is best known nowadays for being the player that the NBA logo takes inspiration from, and unfortunately that means many disregard, ignore, or are even unaware of his Hall of Fame NBA career. The fact of the matter is that to be a quite literal face of the logo (or silhouette of the league, to be more precise), West must have had a very profound impact on the NBA first as a player, then as a coach and even as a GM.
Did Jerry West coach the Lakers? Jerry West coached the Los Angeles Lakers for three seasons, starting with the 1976-77 NBA season until the 1978-79 NBA season. West coached the Lakers to a winning record all three seasons, with his best season coming in the 1976-77 season, holding a league-best 53-29 record. While he did not lead the Lakers to a championship, West led his team to one NBA Conference Finals appearance and two NBA Conference Semifinals appearances as a coach. Finishing with 145 wins and 101 loses. Notable players that West coached include Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Cooper, Adrian Dantley, and Norm Nixon.
Did Jerry West play for the Los Angeles Lakers?
West’s affiliation with the Lakers started well before he became their coach. West was drafted by the Lakers with the second overall pick in the 1960 NBA Draft, and quickly became the focal point of the team. Despite the league at the time being run by big centers, West was an elite guard who excelled on both the offensive and defensive end. Paired with legendary teammates throughout his career such as Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, and Gail Goodrich, West and the Lakers were perennial contenders but often lost out to the all-time great dynasty of the 1960s, the Boston Celtics, led by Bill Russell, but he finally got his sole ring in 1972 to go with his 8 NBA Finals losses.
West ended his 14-year career with multiple accolades: 1 NBA title, 1 NBA Finals MVP award (in a series that he lost!), 14 All-Star Game selections (he was selected for every season he played, a rare feat), 10 All-NBA First Team honors, and 4 All-Defensive First Team honors, among other awards. He averaged 27 points per game, 6.7 assists per game, and 5.8 rebounds per game for his career. West retired at the end of the 1973-74 NBA season, spending the whole of his career with the Lakers, was inducted in the NBA Hall of Fame in 1980.
Did Jerry West work with the Lakers after he coached them?
After a short coaching stint with the Lakers, West moved into a front office role as a scout for three years starting in 1979, and became the team’s general manager in the beginning of the 1982-83 season. West was instrumental in building the “Showtime” Lakers of the 1980s, and once that dynasty reached its end, he managed the organization well to pivot them into the Kobe-and-Shaq era, acquiring both players as well as coach Phil Jackson. He won 5 titles as the general manager of the Los Angeles Lakers before leaving the organization at the end of the 1999-00 season, cementing himself as not only a great Laker player, but a great Laker executive.
Did Jerry West coach or have an executive role with other NBA teams?
West did not take any other coaching rules beyond his three-year stint with the Lakers. West did however pursue other executive roles after he left the Lakers organization, including with the Memphis Grizzlies as the general manager, and as an advisor for the Golden State Warriors and presently holds an advisory role with the Los Angeles Clippers.
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Who are some other notable coaches of the Los Angeles Lakers?
The Lakers have been able to be recognized as possibly the most storied franchise in the NBA thanks to a line of legendary coaches who not only brought much success to the Lakers but also had a serious impact on the NBA and the game of basketball. It goes as far back as when the Lakers were based in Minneapolis, led by coach John Kundla, who built the first Lakers dynasty in the 1950s around the great George Mikan, which brought home 5 NBA titles and the first ever three-peat.
The next great Lakers dynasty, aka the “Showtime” Lakers, had another legendary coach at the helm in Pat Riley. Not only was this era of the Lakers instrumental in turning the NBA into a league full of entertainment, but they played truly attractive, winning basketball under Riley. The dynasty built around Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar alongside a great supporting cast, the Riley-led Lakers won 4 NBA titles in the 1980s. Riley went on to have successful stints as a coach for the New York Knicks and then coach and later executive for the Miami Heat, where he is still active.
Perhaps the greatest Lakers coach, and considered the greatest NBA coach of all time, is Phil Jackson. Coming off the heels of a Bulls dynasty with Michael Jordan, the Lakers brought Jackson to do something similar as they entered the new century, also known as the Kobe Bryant era. Jackson was able to take the Lakers to the top, including a threepeat during his first three years as the Lakers coach, then another two titles during his second stint with the Lakers. While Jackson had already built a Hall of Fame-level career with the Bulls, his success with the Lakers has cemented him as the greatest NBA coach of all time for many people.
Jerry West is one of the few individuals in the NBA to perform at a high-level across different roles: as a player, a coach, and an executive. Many people can only claim that they excelled at one or maybe two roles, but West was great across the board. While his coaching career may be the least illustrious of his NBA roles, it was still quite an above-average tenure, walking away with a winning record and playoff berths in each season he coached. West’s proven track record makes him one of the most appropriate candidates to be forever immortalized as the NBA logo.