LeBron James, Anthony Davis shake hands, pay respect to Jerry West after Kawhi Leonard signing
LeBron James and Anthony Davis respect game and respect NBA history.
Jerry West is living history, the man is the logo.
He’s also the guy who just helped convinced SoCal kids Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to choose the Clippers, forcing LeBron and AD’s Lakers to scramble with Plan B. Leonard and George were guys the Lakers wanted and targeted, two guys the Lakers thought they had at different times, and they chose the Clippers. The seismic shift for what that means for the Los Angeles teams is hard to overstate.
Saturday at Summer League, LeBron and Davis paid respect to West, who was sitting courtside.
There were never going to be fireworks. LeBron, AD, and West all get that the relationships and professionalism around the game matter more than what chess pieces end up where.
West deserves the reverence just for his on-court accomplishments — NBA champion, 1970 NBA scoring leader, 1972 league assist leader, 12 time All-NBA, five-time All-Defensive team, 14-time All-Star — plus the man’s image was used as the silhouette in the NBA logo. After West retired, he has gone on to be one of the great front office executives the league has ever seen, including building the Showtime Lakers and being an advisor to the Warriors when they built their Stephen Curry era dynasty.
Which is why Steve Ballmer hired him away to work for the Clippers. Lawrence Frank is the team president, Michael Winger is the GM (who did most of the negotiating with the Thunder on the George trade), but West’s voice carries a lot of weight. Particularly with Balmer, but also with players and agents. West has earned that level of respect.
West was a lifelong Laker who was pushed out of power in the Phil Jackson era in L.A., and he has gone on to help teams everywhere else he has been. The Lakers could use a guy like that in the front office now, but that ship has sailed and is not coming back to port.