Lakers News: Pat Riley Gives Heartfelt Statement On Death Of Jerry West
Jerry West, Pat Riley, Lakers
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers and NBA world were shaken with terrible news when it was announced on Wednesday morning that Jerry West passed away at the age of 86.

West is a Laker legend, winning the franchise’s first championship in Los Angeles in 1972 and later acting in multiple roles such as head coach and general manager.

West’s impact on the Laker organization cannot be understated as he’s largely responsible for building it into one of the greatest sports franchises of all time.

Former Lakers player and head coach Pat Riley expressed a heartfelt message for West after his passing, via Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald:

“I loved Jerry West! We loved being Lakers together; it was sacred ground. We grew in life with each other and shared the best and worst of times together. We can only hope there is someone we meet during a crucial time in our lives that will change you in ways you could dream about. Jerry was that person for me.

“Today’s sad, sad news about his passing brought back many of those special moments with Jerry. Those beautiful memories came in a waterfall of tears; all coming so fast, so vivid, so etched in my mind. It was like yesterday after a shootaround at The Forum that we’d hustle to Hollis Johnson’s drugstore in Westwood to eat the best burgers, drink milkshakes and savor a great custard pudding with fresh whipped cream before we headed home to nap. Then it was game time and Jerry would kick ass in a way that was so skilled and relentless. I was so proud to be there in his presence. I watched, I learned. He made me believe. Being in that aura of greatness was mesmerizing. I was told, ‘Pat, Just watch him and model yourself after Jerry.’ He was smart, committed, opinionated, fearless, generous, ultra-competitive, stubborn, but with great grace. These were just some of the characteristics he embedded in my psyche. They emerged at the right time, honed by many years of self-talking Jerry reminders. Jerry kicked down that coaching door for me and said, you can do this, but it has to be now. He knew, then he let me coach. I thank him forever and always for giving me that opportunity.

“Chris and I pray the Good Lord will look after Karen and his family during this most difficult time. May peace be with them. And Jerry, one day, my good friend, we will meet again. Just save me a burger, milkshake and custard with whipped cream. The best lunch I ever had. Until then, Rest in Peace.”

As the story goes, Dr. Jerry Buss wanted to part ways with head coach Paul Westhead early in the 1981-82 season due to disagreements with Magic Johnson. The plan was to replace him with West, but the franchise legend instead spontaneously announced that he would work under Riley, who would be the head coach.

Riley obviously succeeded in that role, the Showtime Lakers won four more championships that decade and the rest is history.

West and Riley were key figures for the Lakers during their early days in Los Angeles and the former will be sorely missed.

Lakers’ LeBron James offers condolences after passing of Jerry West

LeBron James came to Los Angeles because of its lure as the gold standard in basketball and he offered his condolences to West as the Lakers legend passed away.

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