Connect with us

Mountaineers in the Pros

Jerry West, WV Native, WVU Hero, Basketball Legend, Dies at 86



Jerry West

Wednesday marks a sad day for the sports world. Jerry West has died at the age of 86. West’s death concludes one of the most accomplished and renowned careers in sports history, and one that started in West Virginia.

A Chelyan, W.Va. native, West became a star at WVU from 1957-1960. He led the Mountaineers to the program’s first Final Four appearance in 1959 and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Tournament as West Virginia fell in the championship game.

Before establishing a legendary legacy as an executive, one that will see him enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame just for that portion of his career alone in August, West, who was the second overall pick in the 1960 NBA Draft, played in the NBA from 1960-74, all with the Los Angeles Lakers. The West Virginia native averaged 27.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 6.7 assists throughout his entire career.

West was also a 14-time NBA All-Star, 10-time All-NBA first team and led the Lakers to the NBA Finals 9 times, granted only winning one championship (1972). Despite falling just short in the NBA Finals, often to Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics, West owns the distinction as the only player to win NBA Finals MVP on the losing team (1969).

Jerry West

Overall, Jerry West spent 39 seasons with the Lakers organization, playing from 1960-74, coaching from 1976-79 and serving as the executive from 1979-2000. West won six NBA Championships within his time spent with the Lakers before serving as an executive for the Memphis Grizzlies, Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers. He owns a total of nine championships from his time as a player and executive in total. Like with the Lakers, many credit West for laying the groundwork of what became the Warriors recent dynasty. West, often regarded as one of the best guards in basketball history, has been the image of the NBA’s logo since 1969, the same year he won NBA Finals MVP (in a losing effort). His No. 44 is retired by the Lakers. West was named to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team back in 2022.

For a related story, Jerry West described his mentality from his playing days during a panel discussion in June of 2023.

Get WVSN in your mailbox!

Enter your email address to subscribe to WVSN and receive notifications of new posts by email.