The NBA and sports community Wednesday mourned the loss of basketball Hall of Famer Jerry West. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, an iconic figure within the Los Angeles Lakers franchise, was one of the many personalities who expressed their sadness at the passing of “The Logo.”

Abdul-Jabbar, who was part of the championship Lakers teams that West played a pivotal role in creating and leading posted on X(formerly Twitter) a heartfelt message to his late friend and mentor.

“The reason Jerry West is the logo for the NBA is because he embodied the qualities we admire in our best athletes: skills as a player, dedication as a teammate, and integrity as a person. He was my coach, and my advisor, but mostly he was my friend. Today, a part of the continent has broken off and we are all left a little smaller. I know I am. I especially want to send my deepest condolences to Karen and the entire West family,” said Abdul-Jabbar on Wednesday.

Jerry West's illustrious playing career

Jerry West passed away on Wednesday morning at the age of 86, with his wife Karen by his side, as confirmed by a statement from the Los Angeles Clippers. West had been serving as a consultant for the Clippers.

West, a Basketball Hall of Famer was inducted three times for his outstanding career as both a player and executive, is renowned for his silhouette that serves as the basis for the NBA logo.

He was the third player ever in NBA history to achieve 25,000 points, a consistent All-Star throughout his career, and led the Lakers to the NBA Finals on nine occasions, capturing a championship in the 1971-72 season.

Additionally, West was recognized as a 12-time All-NBA selection, received the NBA Finals MVP award in 1969 despite being on the losing team (the inaugural year of this accolade, and the only time it was awarded to a player from the losing team), and was honored as part of the NBA's 75th anniversary team.

Jerry West, the executive

NBA great Jerry West is honored for being selected to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team during halftime in the 2022 NBA All-Star Game at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

After retiring as a player, West experienced success as an NBA executive, notably constructing the Showtime Lakers of the 1980s, which secured five championships during that era.

He also played a pivotal role in assembling the Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant partnership. West was present for the Lakers' initial championship in 2000 before departing, allowing the team to achieve a three-peat in subsequent years.

West held various management roles, contributing to the Lakers' NBA championships in 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988, and 2000.

“Jerry West is forever a basketball icon. He brought Lakers fans their first championship in Los Angeles in 1972 and was integral to another six titles during his time with us,” the club said. “Our thoughts are with the West family and the many NBA fans who honor his legacy. Jerry West will always be a Lakers legend,” said the Los Angeles Lakers organization in a statement.

West later joined the Memphis Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors organizations. He was part of the Warriors' front office during their championships in 2015 and 2017, earning his seventh and eighth championship rings as an executive.

The Logo received the Executive of the Year awards in 1995 with the Lakers and in 2004 with the Grizzlies.

The Logo's legacy

“Jerry West was a basketball genius and a defining figure in our league for more than 60 years. He distinguished himself not only as an NBA champion and an All-Star in all 14 of his playing seasons, but also as a consummate competitor who embraced the biggest moments. He was the league’s first Finals MVP and made rising to the occasion his signature quality, earning him the nickname ‘Mr. Clutch,’” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in a statement via NBA Communications.

In his memoir titled “West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life,” West detailed his lifelong struggle with depression. He candidly discussed his battles with depression, which began in childhood due to an abusive father in impoverished rural West Virginia. West described feelings of worthlessness and shared that he channeled his energy into playing the game of basketball as a way to cope.

“It never ceases to amaze me the places you can go in this world chasing a bouncing ball,” West stated in 2019 upon receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor bestowed by the nation, from then-President Donald Trump.

“I swear my name is going to look like a misprint on this list,” West humbly remarked.

Jerry West's impact resonated throughout every era of the NBA's development. As a true icon of the game, his legacy is indelibly etched in the annals of basketball history, solidifying his status as one of the most influential figures the NBA has ever known.