Jerry West has one of the most accomplished basketball careers ever. As a player and as a basketball executive, few have achieved and inspired more. There isn’t a significant basketball era Jerry West hasn’t made a mark on. Yet, when it was his time to get recognized, the quiet, introverted West didn’t feel like going.
“First of all, Andrew, I hate going to Hall of Fame. Seriously, I almost did not go when I was the recipient of it. I said, ‘Why should I go there?’. I guess the attention you get was way too much and over the top.”Jerry West, Legends of Sport
The occasion was Pat Riley’s enshrinement as a part of the Class of 2008. As a player, even as a substitute, Riley was instrumental for the L.A. Lakers reaching NBA championship title in 1972 mainly because he was the one who was guarding Jerry West in practice. West recalls it:
“I remember as a player, he didn’t get an opportunity to play as much, and he had a crazy way of getting involved in coaching the Lakers, and he had enormous success since then. I am very proud of him. He and I are very close, particularly when we were players. That situation always changes when you are a coach and G.M. – it’s a little bit more balancing act than being a player and a player.”Jerry West, Legends of Sport
The get together in Springfield proved to be quite a unique opportunity for the ex-Lakers players, coaches, and operatives to share some of their favorite moments. They were all invaluable parts of the brilliant organization that had won five NBA championship titles during the 1980s (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988).
Despite the fact West avoids attention, he had to admit Hall of Fame events do bring a unique opportunity for old friends to get together in one place, share memories, and what they’ve been up to.
“That was an interesting day because I think that I had obviously been a part of bringing these players to Los Angeles. I think that the different things that you see are the ones who are much more vocal, the ones who are quieter. And I always had my favorites because I seem to favor the quieter ones, to be honest with you. More like my personality. But I sat down and listened to it, and somebody would say something, and I was like, ‘Oh, my God, I almost forgot that.’”Jerry West, Legends of Sport
The funny thing is, according to West, the least mentioned topic was sports. Most of them just enjoyed the memory of comradery that they had decades ago.