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Jerry West

Briefly Considers Retirement

As much as West wanted to win an NBA championship, the toll taken by numerous injuries had forced him to seriously consider retirement prior to the 1971-72 season. In the end, he returned to the Lakers and helped the Los Angeles team to write a new chapter in NBA history. With Baylor largely sidelined by injury, the Lakers looked to West, Wilt Chamberlain, and Gail Goodrich to carry them through. And carry them through, they did. The trio helped power the Lakers to a 33-game winning streak under new coach Bill Sharman, a former star of the Celtics. At the middle of the season, the Lakers had an unprecedented record of 39-3. The team ended the season with a record of 69-13, the best single-season record in NBA history. Throughout the regular season, West, though increasingly hampered by injuries, managed to average 25.8 points per game while leading the NBA in assists with 9.7 per game.

It began to look as though the Lakers were finally on track to win the NBA championship that they had sought for so long. In the playoffs, the Lakers demolished the Chicago Bulls in four games and took the Milwaukee Bucks in six. Facing off against the Knicks in the finals, the Lakers lost the first game to New York but came back to win the next four games in a row, all by relatively large margins, taking the team's combined record for the regular season and playoffs to a remarkable 81-16. Not only had West finally won an NBA championship, but he had done it with a team enjoying one of the greatest seasons in NBA history. Thus revitalized, West went on to play another two seasons for the Lakers. In the 1972-73 season, the Lakers again made it into the NBA finals but lost the championship to the Knicks. A pulled groin injury during the 1973-74 season kept West out of all but 31 games during the regular season and a single game in the playoffs. At season's end, West announced his retirement, telling the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner: "I'm not willing to sacrifice my standards. Perhaps I expect too much." Always high-strung, West was increasingly bothered in his later years as a player by a nervous condition.

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Famous Sports StarsBasketballJerry West Biography - Born In Cheylan, West Virginia, Picked By Lakers In Nba Draft, Chronology, Shines In Playoffs - SELECTED WRITINGS BY WEST: