Jerry West (‘60 BS)
Jerry West, a native of Chelyan, W.Va., graduated from West Virginia University in 1960 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education.
West played only three seasons for the Mountaineers basketball team because, at the time, freshman were not eligible. He set 12 school records and is WVU’s all-time career scoring leader and career rebounder. The two-time All-American graduated with a 24.8 scoring average and became the Lakers’ first pick in the 1960 college draft.
Before entering the NBA, West served as co-captain of the gold medal winning U.S. Olympic basketball team in Rome in 1960 and was a member of the victorious U.S. squad in the 1958 Pan American Games.
During West’s career as general manager with the Los Angeles Lakers, the club won three NBA titles while averaging better than 60 wins per season. After moving to Los Angeles in 1960, the club participated in the playoffs in all but two seasons – and those were the only two seasons (1974-75 and 1975-76) in which he was not affiliated with the club.
West is better-known as one of the greatest players in NBA history after a 14-year career, all with the Lakers. When he retired after the 1973-74 campaign, he had scored 25,192 points, the third player to reach the 25,000 mark, and still the sixth highest total in NBA history. His 29.1 scoring average in the playoffs is still among the highest in NBA history and he remains the Lakers’ all-time scoring leader.
West was selected to the All-NBA first team 10 times and the All-Defensive first team four times. He was selected to play in the All-Star Game for 13 consecutive seasons and was MVP of the 1972 classic at The Forum, and NBA Playoff MVP in 1969 despite playing for the losing team. West was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1979 and was named to the NBA’s 35th Anniversary team in 1980.
After he retired as a player, West returned to the Lakers for the 1976-77 season as head coach. He posted a 145-101 record and his club reached the playoffs in each of his three seasons at the helm. Following the 1978-79 campaign, he served the Lakers for three years as special consultant, with the primary responsibility of scouting college players. In 1982, he was elevated to the club’s General Manger, where he oversaw the day-to-day operations of the club and all player personnel decisions.
In 2002, West joined the Memphis Grizzlies as president of basketball operations, where in his first season with the club, he was honored with the NBA’s Executive of the Year Award. He retired from the basketball organization in 2007.