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Jerry West, known as "M. Clutch" and the face of the NBA logo, was one of the greatest guards to ever play in the NBA — a 14-time All-Star, NBA champion, and 12-time All-NBA. West died in his sleep, Tuesday. He was 86.

Lakers great dies at 86

Younger fans often just know him as "the Logo" — because the silhouetted basketball player in the NBA logo is based on him — or as a consultant to the Warriors and Clippers in recent years.

That leaves out so much of Jerry West's incredibly rich basketball legacy. West was one of the greatest guards to ever play in the league — a 14-time All-Star, NBA champion, 12-time All-NBA, the only player to win Finals MVP on the losing team, Olympic gold medalist, scoring champion, league assist leader, and part of the NBA's 50th and 75th-anniversary teams.

 

He is one of the greatest Lakers and one of the greatest players the game had ever seen — and that was before he went on to be a GM of the Lakers Showtime era. West is up there with Michael Jordan and Bill Russell as the most influential people in the history of the NBA.

West died peacefully on Tuesday night with his wife, Karen, by his side, the Clippers announced.

"Jerry West was a basketball genius and a defining figure in our league for more than 60 years," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. "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 league's first Finals MVP and made rising to the occasion his signature quality, earning him the nickname' Mr. Clutch'.

"Jerry's four decades with the Lakers also included a successful stint as a head coach and a remarkable run in the front office that cemented his reputation as one of the greatest executives in sports history. He helped build eight championship teams during his tenure in the NBA – a legacy of achievement that mirrors his on-court excellence. And he will be enshrined this October into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as a contributor, becoming the first person ever inducted as both a player and a contributor.

"I valued my friendship with Jerry and the knowledge he shared with me over many years about basketball and life. On behalf of the NBA, we send our deepest condolences to Jerry's wife, Karen, his family and his many friends in the NBA community.”

West was synonymous with winning—he was an All-Star in each of his 14 NBA seasons. He was an explosive athlete who was so physically strong that Celtic legend KC Jones said he used to just have to tackle West to foul him. West knew how to get a bucket. He was the third player in NBA history to score 25,000 points (Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson).

More than just scoring, West was nicknamed Mr. Clutch because of his scoring when it mattered. In Game 3 of the 1971 NBA Finals, he hit maybe the most legendary buzzer-beater in NBA history.

West scored more points than any Lakers player until Kobe Bryant took that crown from him.

 

West had a lot in common with Kobe — and legendarily talked then Nets head man John Calipari out of drafting Kobe, allowing him to fall into position for the Lakers to grab him (via trade). Like Kobe, West was as competitive and driven as anyone who ever played in the league — like all the greats, he feared losing more than he chased winning. That drove him. When he was the Lakers' GM he couldn't watch the games live, especially playoff games, because he would get sick. He admitted in his later years what people around him long knew — winning didn't bring him joy so much as relief.

West, the player, led Los Angeles to the NBA Finals nine times, but that was during the Bill Russell Celtics era. Los Angeles kept coming up short in the Finals until they broke through in 1972 with the help of Chamberlain.

West was born and raised in West Virginia, where he played in college. As author Roland Lazenby describes in his biography of West, he was the product of a perfectionist mother and an abusive, alcoholic father. That left him both driven but always with self-esteem issues—he wanted to quit the 1960 Rome Olympic team because he didn't think he was good enough (that team went on to win gold). West talked about his self-esteem issues with Jonathan Abrams for a story on Grantland.

"Self-esteem is something I still battle. People look at me and say you've got fame, you've got admiration, you've done this, you've done that. As far as I'm concerned, I haven't done anything. I've just fulfilled a dream of competing. I could be special in some ways. Even though I felt at times, 'My goodness, you're among the upper echelon,' there is still a huge void there. A huge void. It is about self-esteem. That's a thing that has always been a real complex part of my life.”

West was one of the few great players to transition from the court to the front office, where he went on to be the GM of the Lakers — assembling the Showtime Lakers — and the Memphis Grizzlies. He later was a consultant with the Golden State Warriors as their dynasty formed — West pushed hard against trading Klay Thompson for Kevin Love, a move that would have made the Warriors a more traditional roster but robbed them of what ultimately made them special.

 

West was later hired to be a consultant with the Clippers when Steve Ballmer took over, at times talking the energetic owner down from rash decisions, and helping turn the Clippers into a respected franchise.

Our thoughts are with the West family. Yahoo Sports

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Anthony Davis. Screenshot

Lakers sputter to Nuggets

in opener, 119-107

Anthony Davis inexplicably erratic; 17 pts. first half, 0 pts. second half

Charles Barkley was not impressed with Anthony Davis' performance in the Lakers' loss to the Nuggets on Tuesday night. 

Davis scored 17 points in the first half of Tuesday night's season opener. That put him on pace for 34 in the game. His final scoring output? 17 points. That's right. Davis didn't score a single point in the second half of the Lakers' 119-107 loss. 

Barkley criticized Davis after the game for failing to live up to expectations, a recurring criticism for much of Davis' Lakers career.

“I said when he was in New Orleans [that] this guy is going to be the best basketball player in the world in the next five years. He’s not even mentioned anymore when you talk about the best players in the game,” Barkley said. 

ZINGED AGAIN

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Ja Morant. Courtesy Memphis Grizzlies

NBA suspends Ja Morant 25 games with conditions for reinstatement

NEW YORK (MNS)—The NBA announced June 16 that Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant has been suspended 25 games without pay for conduct detrimental to the league.

Morant posed with a firearm in a car during a live-streamed video on May 13, less than two months after he was suspended eight games without pay for the live streaming of a video on March 4 in which he displayed a firearm while in an intoxicated state at a Denver area nightclub.

The league office found that, on May 13, Morant intentionally and prominently displayed a gun while in a car with several other individuals as they were leaving a social gathering in Memphis. Morant wielded the firearm while knowing that he was being recorded and that the recording was being live streamed on Instagram Live, despite having made commitments to the NBA and statements that he would not repeat the conduct for which he was previously suspended. On May 16, Morant issued a statement taking full accountability for his actions.

Morant’s suspension begins immediately and will remain in effect through the first 25 games of the 2023-24 NBA regular season for which he is otherwise eligible and able to play. He will also be required to meet certain conditions before he returns to play and will be ineligible to participate in any public league or team activities, including preseason games, during the course of his suspension.

"Ja Morant’s decision to once again wield a firearm on social media is alarming and disconcerting given his similar conduct in March for which he was already suspended eight games," said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. "The potential for other young people to emulate Ja’s conduct is particularly concerning. Under these circumstances, we believe a suspension of 25 games is appropriate and makes clear that engaging in reckless and irresponsible behavior with guns will not be tolerated.

"For Ja, basketball needs to take a back seat at this time. Prior to his return to play, he will be required to formulate and fulfill a program with the league that directly addresses the circumstances that led him to repeat this destructive behavior."

TOROS IN TOURNEY

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The Toros’ strong regular season was enough to convince the selection committee to give them a number one seed, despite a tough loss in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Tournament final. 

Toros earn #1 seed in NCAA Division II women's basketball championship

CARSON (CNS)—After a record-setting season that found the team rolling to a 28-2 record, the CSUDH women’s basketball team has earned a number one seed in the NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Championship for the first time in the program’s history.

As the top seed, the Toros will host the eight-team West Regional tournament on campus at the Torodome on March 10-13.

The Toros’ strong regular season was enough to convince the selection committee to give them a number one seed, despite a tough loss in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Tournament final. CSUDH’s loss to second seeded Cal State San Marcos wasn’t enough to bump them from the top spot.

The Toros will kick off their tournament run with a game against number eight seed Cal Poly Pomona at the Torodome on Friday, March 10, at 7:30 PM. The Toros have already defeated CCAA rival Pomona three times this season, including a 67-61 win in the first round of the conference tournament.

The Toros are led by Dawnyel Lair, who earned the CCAA Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year awards for her stellar play in 2022-23. The end of the regular season also saw the Toros’ Nala Williams named CCAA Freshman of the Year, while head coach John Bonner took home CCAA Coach of the Year honors.

Visit gotoros.com for more information and tickets for the NCAA Division II Women's Basketball Championship.

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Los Angeles Clippers artist rendering

Sportswriter At-large

 

Intuit Dome: ‘A basketball palazzo’ cometh destined for Inglewood

First up. At the outset of the 2021-22 season of the National Football League, it’s only fitting to report the great Jim Brown, formerly of Syracuse University and the NFL Cleveland Browns, was enshrined with a bronze statue Sept. 4, outside of Brown Stadium… After each home game at SoFi Stadium during the 2021 NFL season, Los Angeles Rams Tackle and team captain Andrew Whitworth will make a $20,000 donation to help repair homes in his home state of Louisiana and move Angelenos facing housing insecurity into homes as part of his “Big Whit Homes for LA Families” program, Now that’s benevolence.

Now to the biggest news of the week involving Inglewood, Calif. Groundbreaking finally occurred on the $1.8 billion Intuit Dome arena, the future home of the Los Angeles Clippers at the corner of South Prairie Avenue and West Century Boulevard.

Superstars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George joined owner Steve Ballmer in the ground breaking on Friday, Sept. 17, thrusting chrome-tipped shovels into a ceremonial make-shift box of soil where the 18,000-seat arena will be built. The architectural design will seat fans closer to the court and Steve Ballmer, owner and Clippers No. 1 fan excitedly described some of the distinguishing hallmarks the forthcoming arena will offer. Ballmer promised state-of-the-art technology featuring a two-sided oval scoreboard with 44,000 square feet of LED lights, about 37,000 than most current NBA scoreboards.

 

“I like to think about the Dome as a basketball palazzo—homage to the game of basketball,” Ballmer said. “It’s not the Hall of Fame, but with as many championships as we’re going to win here, it’ll be better than the Hall of Fame.” 

Ballmer expressed glee that upon completion, the Intuit Dome will offer the Clippers and the organization an arena of their own. The ceremony had the air of a pep rally with special guests in attendance from local and state officials, players and team executives, to specially-selected fans. The energy that resonated was the LA Clippers’ eagerness to create its own brand and space away from Staples Center and the co-tenant arrangement with the Lakers, Kings, and Sparks. The entire Clippers business operations will be housed beneath a solar-panel-clad roof.

“If you share a building with not one, but two teams, it’s a very difficult task, it really is,” said Jerry West, the former Lakers great, NBA Hall-of-Famer, and consultant to Ballmer and Clippers executives since 2017. “For the players, when they go to the Intuit Dome, they know this building is dedicated to them.”

“It will be a fresh start in a new arena that [will be] Home Sweet Home,” Ballmer said.

 

Ballmer purchased the team in 2014, initially planning to remain downtown LA long-term, but within a year the Clippers organization was scouting locations spurred by a need to distinguish the team’s identity. In 2016 Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts and Ballmer met at the Marina-Del-Rey Ritz-Carlton to discuss a basketball arena whose construction is only now beginning after years of costly legal wrangling. The Clippers did not take
possession of the final parcels of land for the complex until summer this year after the City acquired the remaining land through eminent domain. 

 

Ballmer recounted the months of jousting back and forth and said with a chuckle— “Mayor Butts, boy," he sighed, "we’ve been through it.” 

 

Now, just three years remains to deliver “the singular best place for fans and players throughout the World,” Ballmer said. By the way, the roof of the Dome will be emblazoned with the brand Intuit, the Silicon Valley-based software
company best known for Turbo Tax, whose licensing agreement is 23 years for an undisclosed sum.

   

Ballmer shared a host of digital technology firsts for a sports arena, including a 4700-seat section behind the opposing team bench, dubbed “The Wall” reaching 51 rows high on a steep slope. It will be akin to Fenway Park’s left-field “Wall,” and Duke University’s student section. Ballmer said the team will have a contingency plan in case of delays but was confident the organization will move in on time to allow customers to secure and watch games from “courtside cabanas” modeled after field-level suites in the NFL.

Fans will be able to make purchases from “smart” concession stands that will charge customers automatically without long checkout lines or a wallet, “technology willing,” said Gillian Zucker, business operations manager.

Five basketball courts will adorn the complex with two for community use.

“I feel a little bit like a kid on Christmas,” Ballmer said. “You see that big present sitting there—you know it’s not time to open it yet, so what do you start doing?  Well, I want to rip the paper; you look inside. The only problem we
have right now is, it’s three years before we get a chance to open the damn thing!”

Got to love the man. He’s real! 

Ballmer reiterated that he will contribute 80 million dollars toward affordable housing in the city. But you can never please everyone. Prior to the ceremony, roughly a dozen protesters appeared on Prairie Avenue displaying signs criticizing the looming construction and its potential impact on local residents.

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