For years, Jerry West was in charge of long-range shots and Elgin Baylor for “physical labor”. When West joined the team in the season of 1960-61 Baylor was already the All-Star wing, the player who dominated the points and rebounds. This made it easier for the West to play, as the opponents gathered around Baylor when he had a ball.
When Baylor hurt his knee in the first game of the 1965 Western Conference Finals against Baltimore Bullers, all the load fell on Jerry West’s back. West responded to the challenge by scoring 49 points and Lakers won 121-115, but it was just the first game. In the second game, he scored 52 points and Lakers won again by 118-115. The next two games were won by Baltimore at home, but West retained a great form. He scored 44 and 48 points in both games.
In the fifth game played in Los Angeles, West continued where he stood. He scored 43 points and led his team to win the game 120-112. The next game was played in Baltimore and West scored 42 points, the Lakers won and went to the NBA Finals where they clashed with Boston Celtics and lost 4-1. West’s six-game series against Bullets went into historical books. He scored 40 and more points in each game; no player in history could do it again. His 46.3 points per game remain a record in the playoffs in one series. The other player who did a similar thing is Michael Jordan who averaged 45.2 points per game against Cleveland in 1988.
Jerry West retired from playing basketball in 1974, with career totals that included one NBA Championship, 25,192 points, and he was 14-time All-Star. His impact on the game cannot be underestimated. It’s a silhouette of West dribbling the ball that inspired the classic NBA logo, still in use today.
West was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1979 and was named to the NBA’s 50th Anniversary Team in 1996.