The Executive That Changed Memphis Grizzlies:Jerry West

Jerry West Memphies Grizzlies

Jerry West Memphies Grizzlies:Sports executives, sometimes known as team presidents, CEO’s and general managers, manage professional, collegiate and minor league sports teams. They are responsible for the teams’ finances, as well as overseeing the other departments within the organization, such as marketing, public relations, accounting, ticket sales, advertising, sponsorship and community relations. Sports executives also work on establishing long-term contacts and support within the communities where the teams play.
The two top positions in most sports organizations are team president and general manager. These two positions maybe blended together and held by one person depending on the size of the franchise. Basically, the team presidents are the chief executive officers of the club, responsible for the overall
financial success of the team. The general managers handle the daily business activities of the teams such as hiring and firing, making trades, promotions, scouting and negotiations. Some general managers that work with minor leagues might also deal with additional duties, but the most important asset the general manager brings to an organization is knowledge of business practices.
For Memphis Grizzlies, an appointment in 2002 marked a new era in the franchise’s history. The appointment of Jerry West in 2002 as general manager turned out to be one of Memphis Grizzlies best executive appointment. Jerry West took the team from being the worst in the league to being playoff teams.


Jerry West (in full, Jerome Alan West, byname Mr. Clutch) was born on May 28, 1938, in Cheylan, West Virginia. Jerry is an American basketball executive and former player. During his active career, he played professionally for the Los Angeles Lakers of the NBA. Jerry has a lot of nicknames which includes:
Mr. Clutch – for his ability to make big plays in clutch situations. An instance is his famous buzzer-beating 60-foot shot that tied Game 3 of the 1970 NBA Finals against the New York Knicks
Mr. Logo – in reference to his silhouette being incorporated into the NBA logo
Mr. Outside – in reference to his perimeter play with the Los Angeles Lakers
Zeke from Cabin Creek – for the creek near his birthplace of Cheylan.
Early in his career, Jerry played the small forward position and was a standout at East Bank High School and at West Virginia University, where he led the Mountaineers to the 1959 NCAA Championship. Despite losing the game, he earned the NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player honor. Jerry then moved to Los Angeles Lakers where he had a 14-year career, and was the co-captain of the 1960 U.S. Olympic gold medal team that was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.

EARLY LIFE
West grew up as an abused child, fifth of six children. His father was a coal mine electrician and his mother was a housewife. He was so small, frail and weak that he needed a lot of vitamin injections from his doctor and was kept apart from children’s sports to prevent any serious injury. He was also a shy and introverted kid; this was a result of the trauma of his elder brother’s death. He spent his days hunting and fishing, but shooting at a basketball hoop that a neighbor had nailed to his shed was his main activity.
West attended East Bank High School in East Bank, West Virginia from 1952-156. In his first year, he was benched due to his lack of height. However, he soon became the captain of the freshman team and during the summer of 1953, he grew to 6ft. He eventually came the team’s starting small forward, and quickly established himself as one of the finest players of his generation in West Virginia high school. He was the first player from Virginia to score more than 900 points in a season, averaging 32.2 points per game. West’s mid-range jump shot became his trademark and he often use it to score while under pressure from opposing defenses.

COLLEGE CAREER
West graduated from East Bank High School in 1956, and more than 60 universities showed interest in him. He eventually chose to stay in his home state and attend West Virginia University. He was a member of the WVU freshman squad in 1956-57, that achieved a perfect 17 wins without a loss over the course of the season.
His performances under coach Fred Schaus earned him a multitude of honors, among them an All-American Third Team call-up; First Team All-Southern Conference; Southern Conference Tournament Most Valuable Player Award; Chuck Taylor-Converse Second and United Press International Third-Team-All-American honors. The Mountaineers went 26-2 that year, ending the season with a loss to Manhattan College in a post-season tournament play. During his junior year, West scored 26.6 points per games and 12.3 rebounds per game. He tied the NCAA five-game tournament of 160 points and led all scorers and rebounders in every West Virginia game. West was named Most Outstanding Player of that year’s Final Four, Athlete of the Year and Southern Conference Player of the year and Southern Conference Tournament MVP. West showed his tenacity for the game in a match against the Kentucky Wildcats. West broke his nose in that game but played on despite the pain and having to breathe through his mouth. He scored 19 points in the second half, leading WVU to an upset victory.
In his final collegiate season, West enjoyed several career highs and was honored with several awards. In his final year, he had 30 double-doubles and fifteen 30-point games. In his collegiate career, he totaled 2,309 points and 1,240 rebound.

PROFESSIONAL CAREER
West made himself available for the 1960 NBA Draft and was drafted with the second overall pick by the Minneapolis Lakers, shortly before the team relocated to Los Angeles. He played as a guard for the Lakers. Initially, he felt odd in his new environment. He was a loner; his high-pitched voice earned him the nickname “Tweety Bird” and he spoke with a thick Appalachian accent that his teammates referred to him as Zeke form Cabin Creek. However, West soon impressed his colleagues with his defensive hustle, his vertical jump and work ethics.
West helped the Lakers improve from their previous 25-win season to 36 wins as they reached the 1961 NBA Playoffs. They needed all five games to put away the Detroit Pistons; but then lost to the St. Louis Hawks in seven games, losing the final game 105-103. In his second career, he seamlessly took over the role of team leader and established himself as the main Lakers scorer, averaging 30.8 points, 7.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game, winning All-NBA First Team honors. He became known especially for hitting important late-game shots, and Lakers’ announcer Chick Hearn named him “Mr. Clutch” a handle that stuck with West for the rest of his career. In 1962, he and the team played in the NBA Finals that served as the beginning of the greatest rivalry in NBA history.
West achieved a lot during his 14-year stint with Los Angeles Lakers:
NBA Finals MVP in 1969
NBA All-Defensive Second Team in 1969
NBA Scoring Champion in 1970
NBA Champion and Assists Leader in 1972
14x NBA All Star (from 1961 – 1974)
10x All-NBA First Team (1962-1967, 1970-1973)
4x NBA All-Defensive First Team (1970-1973)
In the 1972-73 season, he left the role of the main scoring player for teammate Goodrich and became a playmaker. The 1973-74 season was to be his last as a player. At 36, he was still regarded as an elite guard, earning another call up into his final All-Star Game. West retired after the team lost to the Milwaukee Bucks, due to contract disagreements. At the time of his departure, he was the leading points scorer in the franchise’s history.

COACHING AND EXECUTIVE CAREER
West became the manager of the Laker in the 1976—77 season. In just three years, he led the Lakers and star center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to a 145-101 record, making the playoffs in all 3 seasons. And reaching the Western Conference Finals once in 1977. He worked as a scout after his coaching stint for another three years before becoming general manager of the Laker prior to the 1982-83 season. West is credited in creating the Lakers dynasty that won five championship rings in the 1980s (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, and 19880. West received his first executive of the year award in the early 1990s, after the team slump and West rebuilt the team of coach Del Harris around Vlade Divac, Cedric Ceballos and Nick Van Excel. The team won 48 games and went to the Western Conference Semifinals.
He traded Vlade Divac for the draft rights to Kobe Bryant, signed free agent center Shaquille O’Neal and six-time NBA Champion Phil Jackson, thus laying the foundation of the Lakers three-peat which saw L.A. win three NBA titles from 2000-2002.
In 2002, Jerry West became the general manager of the Memphis Grizzlies. His decision was out of the desire to build a winning franchise out of a team that had not experienced much success. Even though his stint with the Grizzlies wasn’t as spectacular as his Los Angeles stint, West turned the Grizzlies from a franchise that was about to be sold into a reliable playoffs team. He made few trades but got maximum from the players he had available such as Pau Gasol, James Posey and Jason Williams. He also signed coach Hubie Brown who became Coach of the Year in 2004 and himself, won his second NBA Executive of the Year in that same year.
At age 69, he retired as the Grizzlies manager in 2007. He joined the Golden State Warrior later in 2011 as an executive board member. The Warriors won their first championship in 40 years in the year 2015 and this was the seventh West earned while serving as an executive. He earned his eighth in the 2016-17 season.

Jerry West married his college sweetheart Martha Jane Kane in 1960; they divorced in 1976. They have three sons, David, Mark and Michael. West re-married in 1978. He and Karen, his current wife, have two sons, Ryan and Jonnie (who plays for the West Virginia Mountaineer and married professional golfer Michelle Wie in 2019).
In 2006, he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a player and College Basketball Hall of Fame. In 2011, West and bestselling author Jonathan Coleman wrote a memoir entitled West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life, that became an instant New York Times bestseller. In 2019, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom


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