With an array of stars switching teams these days, loyalty has become a very interesting subject of discussion in the NBA. But back then, there wasn't much buzz about it, as players were genuinely loyal to their teams. Among them is former Los Angeles Lakers star and NBA Hall of Famer Jerry West.
West almost left LA
Like the late Kobe Bryant, West was also a faithful Laker. In fact, he spent all his 14 years in the league with the “Purple and Gold.” However, he confessed that there was one time when he almost left LA.
According to “The Logo,” things were a lot simpler at the time, and they had “no agents” to aid them with their negotiations, so had no other option but to directly discuss everything with the management. And while West never had any issues with the Lakers, there was a time when he was disappointed with how the team owner himself lied to him.
“I played 14 years, all with the Lakers,” West said on Heat Check with Trysta Krick via Audacy’s 2400Sports. “There’s one time in my career where somebody told me something that wasn’t the truth. And this person, who happened to be the owner of the team, I’ll never forget, this is when I was a player, and I really felt, I really felt, like ‘Why lie to me? I don’t lie to you.’”
It was about money
Unsurprisingly, it was about his salary, and though West did not go into details, the fact that he was emphasizing that there was a “lie” already speaks volumes. In fact, it was so unacceptable for him that he was thinking about free agency and leaving the storied franchise.
“Again, I came from West Virginia…We trusted people… And this was one of the things that, if I woulda been a free agent, I woulda left for sure… This was over a salary. We had no agents then. This was over a contractual thing,” West explained. “I said to myself, ‘Why lie to me?’ when I knew that people paid to see me play. I knew they paid to see the Lakers play.”
Ultimately, the issue was resolved, and West decided to stay with the Lakers. Looking back at it, most of us would agree that he made the right decision. But for sure, some of us couldn’t help but think how a contract disagreement almost changed the history of arguably the most celebrated basketball franchise of all time.