Top NewsOne of basketball's greatest players, Jerry West, has died...

One of basketball’s greatest players, Jerry West, has died at the age of 86

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In his first season as head coach, West led the Lakers to an NBA-best 53-29 record, Abdul-Jabbar was the league’s Most Valuable Player, but they lost in the playoffs to the eventual champions, the Portland Trail Blazers. By Bill Walton, who died last month. Two years later, Los Angeles lost to the one-time champions, the Seattle SuperSonics.

West’s win-loss record in three seasons as coach is 145-101 — an admirable resume, especially considering he has no coaching experience at any position. But it was not a fruitful experience.

Among other things, he suffered two critical incidents. In one, Abdul-Jabbar broke his hand after punching the opposing center after Benson elbowed the Milwaukee Bucks’ Kent Benson in the stomach. Several weeks later came one of the most shocking and upsetting episodes in league history: On December 9, 1977, during an on-court brawl between the Lakers and the Houston Rockets, Laker forward Kermit Washington threw a punch. Rudy Tomjanovich, the leader of the Rockets, almost killed him.

In his 2010 autobiography of West, Roland Lassenby wrote that West would “certainly have the best coaches in the basketball business,” and although Cook sold the team after the 1979 season, new owner Jerry Buss wanted West to stay. , he didn’t mind being on the bench. However, West was interested in player evaluation and managerial involvement in the team, and in 1982, following a season in which the Lakers led by Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson brought home their second championship in three years, Buss named him general manager.

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West was an active team builder whose draft picks included several players who became Laker stalwarts: James Worthy (over Dominique Wilkins first overall in 1982), AC Green in the 1985 first round, and Vlad Divac in the 1989 first round instead of Abdul-Jabbar. , retired after 20 years as the game’s dominant player.

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