Los Angeles Lakers controlling governor Jeanie Buss recently made headlines for an informal list of the five most important Lakers of all time. Something like this normally would have been swept under the rug, however, she received some criticism for leaving Jerry West off of her list.
West, who is currently with the L.A. Clippers in their front office, was once considered one of the best players in the NBA and is forever immortalized as the NBA’s logo. As a player, he brought just one championship to the Lakers. However, his biggest impact was as an executive, where he was partially responsible for putting together several championship teams.
Because of this, West was unhappy hearing that his name had been left off of Buss’ list on an appearance on Peter Vescey’s Hoop Du Jour Podcast, via CBSLA:
“I saw the other day Jeanie Buss made a statement, the five most important Lakers, one of the most offensive things I’ve ever heard in my life. I was there a lot of times, had a lot of success,” West told Vescey. “Be curious to know if they would have had that success if I hadn’t been there.
“And I don’t ever take credit for stuff, I don’t. When I was around, maybe I was just a good luck charm,” West went on. “But I do know, that when this thing fell apart, there was a lot of years where they weren’t very good.”
The five names Buss did include on her list were Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, LeBron James and Phil Jackson, all five of whom have made their mark on the Lakers franchise.
While West’s frustration is understandable given all he’s done for L.A. and the Lakers, it’s hard to picture who Buss would have removed from her list in order to make room for him. Bryant, Johnson and Abdul-Jabbar are not debatable, so it’s automatically down to either James or Jackson.
Jackson won five championships and went to seven NBA Finals as the head coach of the Lakers, immediately turning the core of Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal into championship winners upon his arrival. James has been with the team for just three seasons, but has already won a championship and has guided the Lakers fans and franchise through dark times.
Buss also has immensely strong personal relationships with James and Jackson, something she is known to value above all else. So while West may have a legitimate gripe in this instance, it’s simply difficult to find a way to include him in the top five Lakers discussion without removing some very worthy names.
Jordan not afraid to show emotion during Bryant’s Hall of Fame induction
The late Lakers legend will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday, and Michael Jordan will be on stage to give an introductory speech. Jordan, who spoke at Bryant’s public memorial service, said he is not afraid to show emotion when the time comes.
He has long been a close friend of Bryant and has never been afraid to be vulnerable with regard to his relationship with the soon-to-be Hall of Fame inductee.
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