Miami Heat executive Pat Riley issues statement on the passing of Jerry West

Jerry West
Basketball lifer Jerry West passed away Wednesday at the age of 86. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

The basketball world lost a living legend. On Wednesday morning, the Los Angeles Clippers announced that legendary player and executive Jerry West passed away peacefully at the age of 86. He was surrounded by his wife, Karen.

Former Los Angeles Lakers player, coach and current Miami Heat executive Pat Riley, who won five combined championships with West, issued a statement Wednesday afternoon following West’s passing:

“I loved Jerry West! We loved being Lakers together; it was sacred ground. We grew in life with each other and shared the best and worst of times together. We can only hope there is someone we meet during a crucial time in our lives that will change you in ways you could dream about. Jerry was that person for me.

“Today’s sad, sad news about his passing brought back many of those special moments with Jerry. Those beautiful memories came in a waterfall of tears; all coming so fast, so vivid, so etched in my mind. It was like yesterday after a shootaround at The Forum that we’d hustle to Hollis Johnson’s drugstore in Westwood to eat the best burgers, drink milkshakes and savor a great custard pudding with fresh whipped cream before we headed home to nap. Then it was game time and Jerry would kick ass in a way that was so skilled and relentless. I was so proud to be there in his presence. I watched, I learned. He made me believe. Being in that aura of greatness was mesmerizing. I was told, ‘Pat, Just watch him and model yourself after Jerry.’ He was smart, committed, opinionated, fearless, generous, ultra-competitive, stubborn, but with great grace. These were just some of the characteristics he embedded in my psyche. They emerged at the right time, honed by many years of self-talking Jerry reminders. Jerry kicked down that coaching door for me and said, you can do this, but it has to be now. He knew, then he let me coach. I thank him forever and always for giving me that opportunity.

“Chris and I pray the Good Lord will look after Karen and his family during this most difficult time. May peace be with them. And Jerry, one day, my good friend, we will meet again. Just save me a burger, milkshake and custard with whipped cream. The best lunch I ever had. Until then, Rest in Peace.”

West was a nine-time champion–one as a player (1972) and eight more in 40-plus years as an executive with the Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors–and was named an All-Star in all 14 seasons as a player with the Lakers.

The basketball world mourns the passing of West, who’s the logo of the NBA and was nicknamed “Mr. Clutch” for his ability to rise in the biggest of moments. West was a consummate professional and competitor, and was even issued the league’s first NBA Finals MVP in 1969 after averaging 37.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 7.4 assists, despite losing to the rival Boston Celtics in seven games.

He’s widely regarded as one of the greatest and most inspirational figures not only in Los Angeles sports history, but NBA History. He was a 12-time All-NBA honoree, five-time All-Defensive Honoree and was dubbed a top-75 player ever by his peers.

Rest in peace, Jerry.


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Reality Czech

Nice tribute to an iconic figure



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