Jerry West, Los Angeles Lakers Legend Who Became ‘the Logo’ of the NBA, Dead at 86

Jerry West, the Los Angeles Lakers legend as both a player and an executive who was later dubbed “the Logo” after he was immortalized on the NBA’s symbol, has died at the age of 86.

The Los Angeles Clippers, for whom West served as a consultant in recent years, announced the NBA legend’s death Wednesday in a statement, “Jerry West, the personification of basketball excellence and a friend to all who knew him, passed away peacefully this morning at the age of 86. His wife, Karen, was by his side.” No cause of death was provided.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver added in a statement, “Jerry West was a basketball genius and a defining figure in our league for more than 60 years. He distinguished himself not only as an NBA champion and an All-Star in all 14 of his playing seasons, but also as a consummate competitor who embraced the biggest moments. He was the Finals MVP and made rising to the occasion his signature quality, earning the nickname ‘Mr. Clutch.’”

One of the greatest players in NBA history, West spent his entire 14-season playing career with the Lakers franchise, making his pro debut the same year the team moved from Minneapolis to Los Angeles. Over the course of his Hall of Fame career, West made the All-Star Game 14 times (or every season he played), made the All-NBA Team 10 times, and atypically won NBA Finals MVP in 1969 in a series the Lakers ultimately lost; to this day, West is the only player in NBA history to win Finals MVP while also losing in the championship round.

While West would only win one championship during his career in 1972, after his playing career ended in 1974, West segued into a coaching role with the Lakers and, eventually, the front office, where he served as one of the architects of the Showtime Lakers dynasty that was powered by Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

West, as an executive, would win five more titles with the Lakers in the Eighties and then one more in 2000 when the Lakers were led to the title by Kobe Bryant, whose draft rights West is credited with acquiring years earlier.


West would later serve in a front office role with the Memphis Grizzlies, the Golden State Warriors (netting him two championship rings in 2015 and 2017) and finally the Los Angeles Clippers. West was also immortalized as the silhouette on the iconic NBA logo; the image was created in 1969 by designer Alan Siegel, who later admitted that the player he based the logo on — despite years of NBA denials — was West.

“I found this picture of Jerry West dribbling down the court,” Siegel told the Los Angeles Times. “It had a nice flavor to it,” he says, “so I took that picture, and we traced it. It was perfect. It was vertical, and it had a sense of movement. It was just one of those things that clicked.”