Jerry West achieved basketball immortality decades ago.
Every once in a while, though, we are reminded of his incredible credentials and feats and lasting impact on the NBA landscape.
Example: Vlade Divac’s Basketball Hall of Fame speech last weekend in Springfield, Massachusetts. As the Serbian center noted, West brought him to the Lakers, helping set in motion the influx of international players to the NBA.
Wise move, Jerry.
Yes, West had an amazing career as a player and will always be known as one of the greatest front office executives (Lakers, Grizzlies, Warriors, Clippers) in the game.
So it’s an appropriate time to celebrate his career in all its facets. (The Presidential Medal of Freedom, given to West earlier this month, goes well with The Logo’s long list of achievements.)
Great One Award
Which is why it’s nice to see that the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation will honor Jerry West with its Great One Award. The late, legendary sports columnist chronicled West’s remarkable playing career, coaching career and front-office career for decades.
And now, the 1980 Basketball Hall of Fame inductee will join a who’s who of sports luminaries who’ve been given the Great One accolade in the past: Arnold Palmer, Joe Namath, Chris McCarron, Bobby Rahal, Duke Snider, Sugar Ray Leonard, Rick Reilly, Luc Robitaille, Tommy Lasorda, Rosie Grier and Lynn Swann.
The award is presented annually “to a sports figure (athlete, coach, writer) who not only excelled in their field but went above and beyond their role in sports,” according to a JMMF news release.
In 1993, Jim Murray wrote the following poignant observations of West, summing up his unique skill set and personality:
“Jerry West, with such fantastic peripheral vision, it was said he could see his ears. He was such a bundle of endless energy no one ever saw him in repose. Even his conversation was so high-octane and in such a nonstop, sing-song hillbilly twang that the Lakers called him ‘Tweety-bird.’ Jerry always looked as if he just sat down on a hot plate and was hurrying off looking for relief. He was so slat-thin, you could mail him home, but he was a dervish on the floor. He cut so fast and darted so unexpectedly that the man guarding him always looked as if he were trying to catch a feather on a big wave. Jerry West could do everything Michael Jordan could do and his 25,192 career points (sixth-best all-time) prove it.”