In a Lakers season that’s acted as a ‘how not to structure a roster’ module, had its own captain voice his lack-of-confidence, legends criticizing players, we now have ‘The Logo’ bombing the very owner. After being promised and deservingly so lifelong season tickets from the prestigious and passed Dr. Buss himself, Jerry West had his wife receive a shocking and upsetting text.
Discarded like a piece of trash
“It was a cold phone text to my wife,” West recalled. “No one had the nerve to call me, but that’s how petty they are, OK? And I love the Lakers, OK? I love to see them do well. It’s great for basketball. I’m proud of everything that happened when I was there. I’m proud of everything that happened when I wasn’t there — the positives”.
He continued, “but sometimes you feel like you’re discarded, like a piece of trash. And there’s a couple of people over there — not Jeanie — but there’s a couple of people over there that, uh … I don’t get it. I don’t. … I always had a great relationship with Jeanie — at least I thought I did. I don’t know where it is now” (via Sam Amick of The Athletic).
Just real quick, let’s review West’s brief impact on the Lakers organization.
- Won the First NBA championship for the Los Angelas Lakers
- Led the Lakers to 10 NBA Finals
- Only player ever to win FMVP on the losing team
- The executive behind the Magic and Kareem Showtime Lakers
- Brought Shaquille O’Neal to the Lakers and traded the draft rights for Kobe Bryant
Nicknamed Mr. Clutch, his disappointing 1-9 Finals baffles the fans of today who fail to piece together the puzzle of his greatness. It doesn’t matter that he retired as the third-fastest player to reach 25,000 points behind Wilt and Oscar. Or that he was an All-Star every year of his career. He couldn’t win a Finals until the Celtics dynasty had rotted away?
But his story was more profound than the number shown.
When Elgin blew out his knee in the ‘65 playoffs and limped through the ‘66 season (even missing 31 games), West was left as the only great player. So following a Finals trip, without any superstar help, he made a still to this day record of 840 FTs (as a six-foot-three guard), willing the Lakers to the Finals yet again. This is during a time when the game resembled hockey more than current day basketball, and players were routinely creamed on drives - so you can imagine the injuries he would have sustained and played through all in pursuit of a Lakers championship. But as usual, he went up against five Hall of Famers in ‘66, and came within three points in game 7 of toppling Russell’s Celtics. A repeated theme for West’s career. But those moments get lost through generations. Making it all the more imperative that people like Jeanie Buss uphold his legacy and not discard it like trash!
So what could one of the greatest guards and the most outstanding executive in NBA history have done to get the Charles Oakley treatment from a phone?
The Lakers' core died a little today.
There is no definitive answer to that, but then again, would it even matter? Read that resume one more time and ask yourself what West or his wife could have done to lose their seats for the team that Zeke From Cabin Creek helped build? Hell, in the league that West helped build? Without any history of controversies...
LeBron James already compared the once prestigious franchise to one of the worst run teams of the century, but this has taken it down a whole new level. When organizations disrespect the very legends of the past they bled for, a piece of the franchises’ core slowly dies. Maybe that core already left with the great Dr. Buss, the once majority owner of the Lakers and father of the current owner. Perhaps it’s just been poisoned by these unaccustomed failed Lakers seasons. Either way, it’s not a good look…