The NBA paid a poignant tribute to the legendary Jerry West on Wednesday night, just hours after the Hall of Famer’s passing at the age of 86. Prior to Game 3 of the NBA Finals between the Dallas Mavericks and the Boston Celtics at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, the league honored West with a tribute video followed by a moment of silence, setting a reverent tone for the evening.

West, renowned as the silhouette of the NBA logo, leaves behind a monumental legacy that stretches across more than six decades in the league. As a player, executive, and visionary, he shaped the course of basketball history. On the court, he was formidable, making nine NBA Finals appearances and clinching the Finals MVP in 1969, despite being on the losing team. His career stats are equally impressive, with averages of 27 points, 6.7 assists, and 5.8 rebounds per game, making him one of the league’s initial 25,000-point scorers.

Off the court, West’s impact was just as profound. He was instrumental in assembling the “Showtime” Lakers of the 1980s and was pivotal in bringing both Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant to the Lakers, thereby cementing his legacy as a brilliant strategist. His executive career extended beyond the Lakers, including significant roles with the Memphis Grizzlies, Golden State Warriors—where he contributed to two more championships—and the Los Angeles Clippers.

The respect West garnered was evident in the reactions across the basketball world. Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla recounted one of the “most impactful phone calls” he received from West during his college days, highlighting the personal influence West had on many in the sport. Basketball personalities such as Charles Barkley and former Warriors general manager Bob Myers also paid their respects on Wednesday, emphasizing West’s profound influence on the NBA.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver captured the sentiment of many, stating, “Jerry West was a basketball genius and a defining figure in our league for more than 60 years. 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.”

West’s accolades include two inductions into the Hall of Fame, first as a player and later as a member of the 1960 U.S. Olympics team. This fall, he will be posthumously honored once more as a contributor. In addition to his sports achievements, West was also a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2019, underscoring his extensive contributions both on and off the court.

As the NBA community mourns, it also celebrates the enduring legacy of a man who was more than just a basketball player or executive; he was a pillar of the sport whose influence will resonate for generations to come.



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