The Los Angeles Lakers are the NBA’s premier franchise because of their consistent success of winning at the highest levels.
The Lakers have 17 titles, tied with the Boston Celtics for most in the league and the bulk of those can be attributed to Jerry West.
West spent 40 years with the Purple and Gold in various roles before ultimately retiring from the franchise on Aug. 7, 2000.
West came to the team as a player when they selected him No. 2 overall in the 1960 NBA Draft and he ended up playing his entire 14-year career with the franchise. He led the Lakers to a title in 1972, marking Los Angeles’ first championship since moving from Minneapolis. After his playing days were over, he moved to the bench and served as the Lakers’ head coach from 1976-1979.
“The Logo” eventually moved into a scouting role following the 1978-79 season and did that for three years before being promoted to general manager prior to the 1982-83 season. West found most of his success in the front office as he is widely credited for building the “Showtime” Lakers, who went on to win five championships in the 1980s.
While Los Angeles experienced a slump in the early 1990s, West managed to rebuild the team with exciting players in Vlade Divac, Cedric Ceballos and Nick Van Exel. The young trio managed to advance to the Western Conference Semifinals, eventually leading to West’s first Executive of the Year Award.
However, West’s greatest accomplishment came in 1996 when he traded away Divac in exchange for the draft rights to Kobe Bryant. He immediately followed that up by luring Shaquille O’Neal away from the Orlando Magic in free agency, setting up the next Lakers dynasty. West brought in Phil Jackson to be the team’s head coach and he along with his superstar duo led L.A. to three consecutive championships.
West had already retired from the franchise before the Lakers completed their “three-peat” but he laid the foundation down for the organization to be successful for many years to come. After leaving the Lakers, West served as the general manager for the Memphis Grizzlies. He later served as an executive board member for the Golden State Warriors, and currently works for the L.A. Clippers in the same role.
Despite his stops, West will always be remembered for his time with the Lakers and his contributions to their championship success.
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