It's Official: Jerry West Is Going To The Clippers
June 15, 2017
By Mitch Chortkoff
What seemed very likely several weeks ago is now official.
Jerry West is joining the Clippers.
At 79, West still enjoys accurately evaluating players, a talent he's had since his playing days. Retirement isn't for everyone his age.
West, a Laker great as a player, became the Lakers' general manager, engineered the trade that brought in Kobe Bryant and presided over six NBA championship years with the team.
He left for Memphis, reportedly because of a financial disagreement with owner Jerry Buss, got them into the playoffs for the first time in their history and a few years later joined the Golden State Warriors, playing a key role in the makeup of the championship current roster.
He's credited for convincing free agent Kevin Durant Golden State would be a good place for him because he wouldn't often be double-teamed since the Warriors have several other star shooters. West also stood firm when the Warriors were going to trade Klay Thompson. He said he'd quit if they did that so they didn't.
I wrote about the likelihood of West joining the Clippers a few weeks ago but couldn't say for sure it would happen because West's contract with the Warriors hadn't expired yet.
West hoped the Lakers would hire him but when they didn't the Clippers invited him to a meeting with owner Steve Ballmer and coach-general manager Doc Rivers.
The Lakers may have wondered how well Magic Johnson and West would work together. The Clippers have no such reservations how West and Rivers will co-exist.
"Steve Ballmer is one of the NBA's great owners," said West. "I love a challenge and I don't feel old,"
A year ago West agreed to a Culver City Observer interview with myself, Observer columnist Bosmat Eynav and photographer George Laase.
I could tell then he still had the passion to remain prominent in the NBA.
I've had conversations with him since then. After one conversation I suggested to the Lakers they should hire him to repair the damage done in the Jim Buss era.
He responded by saying "you're wasting your time. They aren't going to hire me."
Give the Clippers credit for recognizing his ability to draw in players.
In their last 20 games the Clippers have beaten the Lakers 18 times. It's up to Johnson and Rob Pelinka to reverse that trend but they'll be competing against West.