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Jerry West: It’s ‘Offensive’ To Be Left Off Jeanie Buss’ List Of Greatest Lakers

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Longtime Lakers player, All-Star, and executive Jerry West, forever known as the Logo in the NBA, wasn’t pleased after discovering that Lakers owner Jeannie Buss had excluded him from her list of top 5 franchise legends. 

What’s more surprising is a name that did claim one of the five spots.

Jeannie Buss, whose close partnership with Jerry West and her father Dr. Jerry Buss helped build the Lakers dynasty in the early 2000s, raised eyebrows when she chose current Laker LeBron James for the list over West. The remainder of the list included Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, James, and former head coach Phil Jackson.

West, 82, responded in the Hoop du Jour podcast, hosted by another Hall of Famer, longtime NBA writer Peter Vecsey. 

“I saw the other day Jeanie Buss made a statement, the five most important Lakers. One of the most offensive things I’ve ever heard in my life. I was there a lot of times, had a lot of success,” West told Vescey. “Be curious to know if they would have had that success if I hadn’t been there.”

Drafted by owner Jack Kent Cooke in 1960, West played guard for the Lakers, garnering 14 All-Star selections and one championship in 1972. He retired with the Lakers in 1974. 

LeBron is approaching three years with the Lakers since signing in June 2018. The team won the NBA Championship last year under his leadership.

As a key member of the Lakers front office Jerry West — a two-time NBA Executive of the Year — put the Lakers in position to acquire two names on Buss’s list, Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson, along with a prime Shaquille O’Neal.  

After a stint in Memphis, West joined the Golden State Warriors front office in 2011 and helped build a team that earned the franchise their first Larry O’Brien trophy in 40 years. Golden State repeated the following year, amounting to eight total championships won by West. 

After the 2016-2017 season, West moved back to Los Angeles to join the Clippers as an executive board member. He helped rebuild the team after the departure of owner Donald Sterling. Going into the 2020-2021 playoffs, the Clippers are slated to be the third overall seed in the West, while the Lakers, led by LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Jeannie Buss, hope that their play-in tournament chances pan out.

James’s legacy with the franchise will continue to grow and change well beyond his retirement, and Jerry West’s legacy should as well. West came from an era when franchise pride and cohesive locker rooms produced a fanfare that is hard to find in today’s audiences. League parity has benefitted from stars like LeBron, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, and Kawhi Leonard changing destinations in pursuit of contracts, championships, and more; however, the decline in viewership shows that fans aren’t sticking around once players decide to pack their bags and go. 

Jerry West built a different legacy in the same town as LeBron, and only time will tell which name will outlast the other. 

For the record, here’s the correct list:

  1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
  2. Kobe Bryant
  3. Phil Jackson
  4. Magic Johnson
  5. ­Jerry West 

Written by Alejandro Avila

Alejandro Avila lives in Southern California and previously covered news for the LA Football Network. Guided by Kevin Harlan on one shoulder, Eli Manning on the other, Alejandro joins the OutKick community with an authentic passion for sports, pop culture, America, and episodes of Jeopardy!

 

Twitter: @AlejandroAveela

18 Comments

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    • Jerry West played 14 seasons, all for the Lakers, and was an all star 14 times. This is ignorant, ridiculous, and insulting. Not everyone chose to jump ship on their team every time the going got tough to grab “rent-a-rings” like some on current Laker teams.

  1. Gotta be lists for players and for executives. Apples and oranges.
    How can Phil be on a list with players?
    Phil was a GREAT 6th man with the Knicks in their glory years, but you can’t bump a worthy player for a team executive.
    Lastly, don’t see why an owner – or exec – would want to pick a Top 5 all-time when you have at least 10 all-timers. Same as the NY Yankees…who’s gonna say these are the top 5 all-time…ludicrous.

  2. Lakers fan back to the late 60’s. Given his status as a player and and executive, Jerry West is THE legend of the franchise, and it’s not close. Drop Phil Jackson, whom I respect, add Elgin Baylor. No serious person would classify Lebron James as a “legend of the franchise.” Ridiculous.

  3. Lakers fan back to the late 60’s. Given his status as a player and and executive, Jerry West is THE legend of the franchise, and it’s not close. Drop Phil Jackson, whom I respect, add Elgin Baylor. No serious person would classify Lebron James as a “legend of the franchise.” Ridiculous. Probably one of the many reasons why I don’t give a shit about the NBA anymore.

    • There can’t be just 5 can there? Because of course Elgin should be on it too, along with George Mikan who helped establish the Lakers when they were still in the land of 10,000 lakes — Minnesota.

  4. It’s never fair to compare players from different generations because the training, the funding, the rules, the refs — everything is so different. LeBron might’ve been much WORSE back in the 60s when teams actually competed and refs called traveling. Today’s NBA is becoming WWE. Just a show.

  5. Why is Jackson on the list? Any old coach could have won with Jackson’s players. If he was so great, and integral to Laker success, why didn’t he win with the ‘knicks? Answer: it’s the players, stupid!

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