Jerry West's Lakers won only one NBA championship, but he still ranks as a roundball immortal.
There is a small joke packed into the title as it is West’s left-handed profile (silhouetted in white against a red and blue backdrop) that is used for the National Basketball Association’s logo. For those who don’t know anything about the pre-Michael-Jordan-era NBA, Jerry West (aka, Mr. Clutch) was a round-ball superstar when there were only a handful of such. Though that alone would not recommend a comprehensive biographythere are, in my mind, only a handful of must read sports biographies (Larry Tye’s recent bio of Satchell Paige and Wil Haygood’s splendid account of Sugar Ray Robinson).
West, who hails from the unglamorous precincts (the coal fields) of Cabin Creek, West Virginia, was a high school, college basketball, and Olympian (1960 gold medal) champion, perennial NBA all-star (14 times), and championship finals participant (West’s Lakers managed to win one of nine). He went on to oversee the great Lakers teams with Ervin Johnson, up to Kobe Bryant, and the hiring of Phil Jackson. In 2002 he moved on to a brief stint with the NBA’s Memphis outlet, the Grizzlies, retiring in 2007.
Basketball has not yielded many resonant stories (John Feinstein’s The Fight, and Pete Axthelm’s The City Game come to mind). Lazenby’s account of a true sport icon is one.