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Jerry West, Lakers Legend and Literal Icon of the NBA, Dies at 86

Jerry West, the Los Angeles Lakers’ legendary guard and longtime dynasty-building NBA executive whose silhouette inspired the league’s logo, has died, the LA Clippers announced Wednesday. He was 86.

West – nicknamed “Mr. Clutch” in his playing days – was selected to the Basketball Hall of Fame three times as a player and executive. He was first enshrined as a Laker in 1980; then again in 2010 for his contribution fo the 1960 gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic team. His third selection is slated for later this year for his contributions to the league across six decades.

West was “the personification of basketball excellence and a friend to all who knew him,” the Clippers statement said. West was an executive for LA’s other downtown basketball club for the past seven years.

West was selected to the NBA All-Star team in all 14 of his seasons as a player, and helped the 1972 Lakers win a championship. He later became general manager of eight NBA championship teams with the Lakers, and was instrumental in building the dynasty that came to be known as “Showtime,” as well as orchestrating the later acquisitions of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.

West later went on to become an executive for the Memphis Grizzlies, the Golden State Warriors and the Clippers.

West’s image is widely considered to be the inspiration for the NBA logo, an image of a player running and dribbling a basketball that looks precisely like the lithe Laker rounding the floor. The NBA has never officially confirmed that it is West – but has never denied it, either, and the lineage has become sports canon.

West was 25th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list when he retired, and is still the NBA Finals’ all-time leader in total points, having played in nine finals series with Los Angeles.

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