Jerry West, Hall of Fame guard, has turned 76-years old today. West played his entire professional career with the Lakers and earned a few of the best nicknames in sports. “Mr. Clutch” and “Mr. Outside” refer to his perimeter shooting skills and ability to hit a late-game “clutch” shot when it mattered most.
West was voted as an All-Pro 12 times and as an All-Star 14 times in his career, with 1972 being the only year he earned both All-Star Game MVP honors and his only NBA Championship. He was named NBA Finals MVP in 1969, even though it was in a losing effort. West‘s 46.3 points per game average in a playoff series is an NBA record. West was very good on defense as well, with 5 All-Defensive Team honors, which were introduced in West‘s 30s. West was inducted to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1980, the 1960 Olympic Gold Medal U.S. Team he was on in 2010, and was considered one of the Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996.
“Zeke from Cabin Creek” is a nickname given to West after the creek near his birthplace of Chelyan, West Virginia. He led West Virginia University to 1959 NCAA championship game and earned the NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player honor despite losing the championship game.
West wasn’t satisfied with just playing in the NBA, he decided to join management positions. West began as head coach of the Lakers for three years, leading Los Angeles to the playoffs each year and earning a Western Conference Finals berth in one of those seasons. Prior to the 1982-1983 season, West was named general manager and the Lakers flourished under his management with 6 championships. West became general manager of the Memphis Grizzlies in 2002 and helped the franchise clinch their first-ever playoff berths. West won NBA Executive of the Year Award twice, once as a Lakers manager (1995) and then as a Grizzlies manager (2004).
West‘s contributions to the NBA were recognized by the league and was made part of their logo, which still uses West‘s silhouette today, making him part of “The Logo“.