West Virginia icon Jerry West dead at 86

Jerry West, a West Virginia icon and one of the greatest basketball players of all time, has died at 86.

A release from the Los Angeles Clippers said West died peacefully Wednesday morning at the age of 86 with his wife, Karen, by his side.

A native of Kanawha County who hailed from Cheylan, West is perhaps the most decorated athlete from West Virginia.

He averaged 24.8 points over three seasons at West Virginia University and helped lead the Mountaineers to an appearance in the 1959 national title game.

West went on to play 14 seasons for the Los Angeles Lakers from 1960-1974 and was then part of the organization for nearly three more decades. As a player, he made the All-Star Game each of his 14 seasons in the NBA and was a 12-time All-NBA selection.

A member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, West won a NBA championship with the Lakers in 1972 and an additional six while in the organization’s front office. He was an architect of the organization’s 10 championships in the 1980s and 2000s.

West went on to add another two championships to his resume while working in an advisory role with the Golden State Warriors.

Recently, the man whose silhouette was used to become the NBA logo had been working for the Los Angeles Clippers.

Nicknamed ‘Mr. Clutch’ for his ability to rise to the occasion late in games, West was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame three times — as a player in 1980, as a member of the 1960 U.S. Olympic Team in 2010 and as a contributor in 2024.

West appeared in the NBA Finals nine times as a player, and in 1969, he was chosen Finals MVP. West remains the only player to garner that award as a member of the losing team.

After his playing career, West became head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers and helped lead the franchise to a winning season in each of his three years with that title.

The NBA has planned a pregame tribute to West on Wednesday night in advance of Game 3 of the NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks.

“Jerry West was a basketball genius and a defining figure in our league for more than 60 years,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “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. He was the league’ first Finals MVP and made rising to the occasion his signature quality, earning him the nickname ‘Mr. Clutch’.

“Jerry’s four decades with the Lakers also included a successful stint as a head coach and a remarkable run in the front office that cemented his reputation as one of the greatest executives in sports history. He helped build eight championship teams during his tenure in the NBA — a legacy of achievement that mirrors his on-court excellence. And he will be enshrined this October into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as a contributor, becoming the first person ever inducted as both a player and a contributor.

“I valued my friendship with Jerry and the knowledge he shared with me over many years about basketball and life. On behalf of the NBA, we send our deepest condolences to to Jerry’s wife, Karen, his family and his many friends in the NBA community.”

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