Jerry West Cause of Death: Cancer – Remembering an NBA Legend

Jerry West Cause of Death: Cancer – Remembering an NBA Legend

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Written By Joe Martin

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The world of basketball mourns the loss of Jerry West, the iconic NBA player and inspiration behind the league’s current logo, who passed away at the age of 86. West’s death, confirmed by the Los Angeles Clippers, was due to cancer. He was surrounded by his wife, Karen, in his final moments.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver released a heartfelt statement on Wednesday, highlighting West’s immense contributions to the sport. “Jerry West was a basketball genius and a defining figure in our league for more than 60 years,” Silver said. ”

He distinguished himself not only as an NBA champion and an All-Star in all 14 of his playing seasons but also as a consummate competitor who embraced the biggest moments. His legacy includes building eight championship teams, a testament to his on-court excellence and his strategic mind.”

A Stellar Career: From Player to Executive

Jerry West, affectionately known as “Mr. Clutch,” was drafted by the Minneapolis Lakers in 1960, just before the team moved to Los Angeles. He played as a point guard and shooting guard until 1974, earning 14 NBA All-Star selections and leading the Lakers to the NBA Finals nine times. West’s prowess was not limited to the NBA; he was also a co-captain of the US Olympic basketball team that clinched the gold medal in 1960.

Post his playing career, West transitioned to coaching and then to executive roles, significantly impacting the Lakers. As a coach, he led the team for three seasons starting in 1976, before moving into scouting and eventually the front office.

During his tenure as an executive, he played a crucial role in the “Showtime” Lakers era of the 1980s, featuring legends like Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and James Worthy. West’s strategic acumen was instrumental again in the mid-1990s when he rebuilt the Lakers around Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.

Achievements Beyond the Lakers

West’s influence extended beyond the Lakers. He held leadership positions with the Memphis Grizzlies, Golden State Warriors, and most recently, the Los Angeles Clippers. His efforts were recognized at the highest level when he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2019 by then-President Donald Trump.

Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan expressed his sorrow at West’s passing through his representative. “He was truly a friend and a mentor, like an older brother to me. I valued his friendship and knowledge,” Jordan said. “I admired his basketball insights, and he and I shared many similarities in how we approached the game. He will be forever missed.”

Magic Johnson, another Lakers legend, also shared his grief, calling West a great friend and confidante. Johnson recalled West’s support during his highest and lowest moments, including when he announced his HIV diagnosis. “Beyond his basketball accolades, Jerry West was a great man, a leader of men, and fiercely loved his family and friends,” Johnson said.

Pat Riley and the ‘Logo’ Legacy

West’s former teammate and colleague Pat Riley shared heartfelt memories, highlighting West’s significant impact on his career. Riley credited West for giving him the opportunity to coach and described him as “smart, committed, opinionated, fearless, generous, ultra-competitive, and stubborn, but with great grace.”

One of the most enduring symbols of West’s legacy is the NBA logo, inspired by a photograph of him in perfect dribbling form. Designed by Alan Siegel in 1969, the logo has never been officially acknowledged by the NBA as depicting West, but Siegel confirmed its origins. This silhouette has earned West the nickname “The Logo,” cementing his influence on the sport.

A Lasting Influence on Basketball

West’s contributions to basketball extended far beyond his playing days. He was a pivotal figure in the game, from the 1960s until his death, influencing players, teams, and the overall direction of the NBA. Clippers owner Steve Ballmer remembered West as a “confidant, an advisor, and a friend,” emphasizing his competitive spirit and drive.

West’s strategic mind was evident during his tenure with various teams. At the Golden State Warriors, he helped build a team around Steph Curry, leading to the franchise’s first NBA title in 40 years and setting the stage for multiple championships.

Conclusion: A Legacy of Excellence

Jerry West’s passing is a significant loss for the basketball community. His legacy as a player, coach, executive, and mentor is unmatched. His contributions to the sport have left an indelible mark, inspiring future generations. As we remember Jerry West, we celebrate his extraordinary life and achievements, reflecting on the lasting impact he had on basketball and the many lives he touched.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What was the cause of Jerry West’s death?
Jerry West passed away due to cancer, as confirmed by the Los Angeles Clippers.

2. How old was Jerry West when he died?
Jerry West was 86 years old at the time of his passing.

3. What were some of Jerry West’s notable achievements as a player?
Jerry West was a 14-time NBA All-Star, co-captain of the US Olympic basketball team that won gold in 1960, and the inspiration for the NBA logo. He also led the Lakers to the NBA Finals nine times and won a championship in 1972.

4. How did Jerry West contribute to the NBA after his playing career?
After retiring as a player, West became a coach, scout, and executive. He played a crucial role in building the “Showtime” Lakers of the 1980s and the Shaq-Kobe era of the 1990s. He also held leadership roles with the Memphis Grizzlies, Golden State Warriors, and Los Angeles Clippers.

5. What honors did Jerry West receive during his lifetime?
In addition to his numerous basketball achievements, Jerry West was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2019. He was also enshrined into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and a contributor.

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