West appeared in 79 games and averaged 17.6 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists in the first of what was 14 career All-Star seasons. West was an elite talent from the moment he entered the league and remains one of the best shooters and scorers the NBA has ever seen.
He played in nine NBA Finals with the Lakers, though was victorious just once — in 1972. Despite that, West stands as the only player in NBA history to be named Finals MVP (1969).
After retiring on Oct. 4, 1974, West’s post-playing career included serving as head coach of the Lakers for three seasons. He led the team to the playoffs in each of those years, including one berth in the Western Conference Finals.
West was named Lakers general manager ahead of 1982-83 season, and constructed a team that won six championships. Residing as the Lakers’ all-tim leading scorer (25,192 points), West had his No. 44 retired by the team on Nov. 19, 1983.
He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1979, and named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history during the league’s 50th anniversary season in 1996-97.