WVU standout and NBA legend Jerry West passes away at 86

By RealWV Staff,

LOS ANGELES, CA. – American basketball icon and West Virginia native Jerry West passed away peacefully at his home in Los Angeles on Wednesday. West was 86. 

West, who achieved unparalleled success in every facet of amateur and professional basketball throughout his near-70-year career, is a one-time Olympian, a 14-time NBA All-Star, a one-time NBA Champion (as a player), and a three-time NBA Hall of Famer, among his many other accolades. West was born in Chelyan in 1938, and was a stand-out at West Virginia University before being drafted by the then Minneapolis Lakers as the second overall pick in the 1960 NBA Draft. 

Between 1976 and 2000, West served the Lakers as head coach, talent scout, and general manager. Through his acquisitions of players such as Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Vlade Divac, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kobe Bryant – as well as coaches Phil Jackson and Pat Riley – West led the Lakers to their most successful period in franchise history. After leaving the Lakers at the end of the 1999-2000 season, West spent the latter years of his career as the general manager of the Memphis Grizzlies, and a board member with both the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers. 

In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, Sen. Joe Manchin called West “a pillar of West Virginia culture,” who “never forgot his roots.”

“When you think of basketball, you think of Jerry West, and it is only fitting his legacy has been forever commemorated in the organization’s (NBA) logo,” Manchin continued. “To his core, Jerry was a West Virginian with an unbeatable work ethic and resilience like no other. He was a great friend and a world-class representative for both the NBA and for West Virginia. Our hearts and prayers are with his wife, Karen, his sons, Ryan, Jonnie, Mark, David, and Michael, and all of his loved ones as they mourn this tremendous loss.”

President Gordon Gee of WVU, where West played college ball, posted his thoughts to social; media after the announcement of West’s passing.

“As the basketball world mourns the man known simply as ‘the logo,’ I join all West Virginians and members of the West Virginia University family in remembering a true legend.”

Gee referred to West as “the logo,” as it is widely believed that the NBA logo is the silhouette of West. 

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