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Jerry West

Picked By Lakers In Nba Draft

The late-blooming West was the number one pick in the first round of the 1960 NBA draft, tapped by the Minneapolis Lakers on the eve of their move to Los Angeles. Although he helped the Lakers to improve their record from a dismal 25-50 in 1959-60 to 36-43 in 1960-61, his rookie season, West years later admitted that he did not yet feel truly comfortable in the NBA. "I was like a fish out of water," he told an interviewer for NBA.com. West's comfort level must have improved significantly his second year with the Lakers, as he nearly doubled his points per game from 17.6 in his rookie season to 30.8 during the 1961-62 season. He also averaged 7.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game. Largely on the strength of play by West and Elgin Baylor, dubbed the "dynamic duo," the Lakers made it to the NBA finals but lost to the Celtics.


1938 Born in Cheylan, West Virginia, on May 28
1956-60 Attends West Virginia University
1960 Picked by Minneapolis Lakers in first round of NBA draft
1974 Steps down as a player
1976 Rejoins Lakers as head coach
1979-82 Serves as special consultant to the Lakers
1982 Named general manager of the Lakers
1995 Named executive vice president of the Lakers
2000 Retires as executive with the Lakers
2002 Hired as president of the Memphis Grizzlies

West began to acquire a reputation as a perfectionist. Looking back on a game in which he hit 16 of 17 shots from the field, sank all 12 free-throw attempts, and notched 12 rebounds, 12 assists, and 10 blocked shots, West told the National Sports Daily: "Defensively, from a team standpoint, I didn't feel I played very well. Very rarely was I satisfied with how I played." He also showed a remarkable ability to withstand physical pain. According to his biography on the NBA's official Web site, West was "not blessed with great size, strength, or dribbling ability," but "made up for these deficiencies with pure hustle and an apparent lack of regard for his body. He broke his nose at least nine times. On more than one occasion West had to be helped to the court before games in which he ultimately scored 30 or 40 points."

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