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A Uni Watch Look at Jerry West

NBA legend Jerry West passed away on June 12th, and perhaps more than any other person, is responsible for the success of the NBA today. Per Wikipedia, he “was an American basketball player and executive. He played professionally for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). His nicknames included ‘the Logo,’ in reference to his silhouette being the basis for the NBA logo; ‘Mr. Clutch,’ for his ability to make a big play in a key situation such as his famous buzzer-beating 60-foot shot that tied Game 3 of the 1970 NBA Finals against the New York Knicks; ‘Mr. Outside,’ in reference to his perimeter play with the Lakers and ‘Zeke from Cabin Creek’ for the creek near his birthplace of Chelyan, West Virginia.”

West was also quite uni-notable, and was the inspiration for the NBA logo.

Reader/Contributor Steve Dodell (the man responsible for spotting the mistake on the Seaver statue at CitiField) offered up some thoughts on West. In the spirit of Paul’s previous memorial pieces, here’s Steve with …

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A Uni Watch Look at Jerry West
by Steve Dodell

Lakers legend Jerry West passed away this week. He was legendary not only as a Hall of Fame player, but as a general manager, one of the most influential scouts in the league’s history and an Olympic gold medal winner. He was also quite uni-notable. It has been long thought that he was the player depicted in the NBA logo. That logo was somewhat inspired by the Jerry Dior MLB logo, a logo that depicts a player that many thought to be Harmon Killebrew. Several years ago, in one article, Paul debunked the Killebrew myth and confirmed that West was indeed the player depicted in the NBA logo. Just Paul being the GOAT of uni reporters.

Jerry actually had mixed feelings about the honor and sometimes felt apologetic of the attention.

Because West was uncomfortable with the attention, the NBA only now just acknowledged West as the logo for the first time.

If being the logo of a ubiquitous global brand were not enough, how many players get to wear their name on the front and back of their jersey at the same time? Paul was on that too, natch.

“Basketball great Jerry West represented the Western Conference in several NBA All-Star Games, and on those occasions he got to wear his surname fore and aft.”

Finally, the Lakers are known in Uni Watch lore for having issues with mismatched purple elements as Kary Klismet wrote in this piece.

I did a search for examples of Jerry West with mismatched purple elements and they were not easy to come by. Most shots were pretty uniform in hue. This was the best I could do:

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Thanks, Steve. West may be more familiar to folks in the Lakers’ forum blue and gold, but he began his Lakers career wearing blue and white.

And of course, after his playing career, West aged gracefully, and his style on the sidelines was impeccable.

Here’s just a small sampling of photos of West from his playing days.

The Lakers will most certainly add a memorial of some kind to their uniforms next season. It will be interesting to see if there is any league-wide tribute, such as when the NBA honored Bill Russell.


Comments (13)

    The NBA logo in just black and white and JW instead of NBA would be a cool memorial patch

    The league should honor him with all teams playing with a slightly larger black and white NBA logo on the uniforms instead of the usual red white and blue. And put a black 44 on the white silhouet.

    And move it back to the front where it used to be, even if it is just for one season.

    Not specifically relevant to this article (although it’s a great one!) but I just wanted to say thank you for a fantastic start to this new era of Uni Watch. The quality of the posts has been brilliant and I’m loving the Ticker being every other day – it makes for a denser little treat that gets me excited to read it. Sort of like having a middle piece from the brownie tray, rather than one from the center – less common but it’s worth it for the extra deliciousness. Have an awesome weekend, everyone

    Since Phil is away, I’ll say Thank You! for him.

    And I agree… the new ticker setup is an improvement, and middle brownies are the best.

    Calling the Lakers purple “Forum Blue” was because the owner, Jack Kent Cooke, didn’t like the word purple. He was fine with the color, just didn’t like the word. Cooke built the Forum, and he switched their colors when they moved into this new arena. The great Chick Hearn hated introducing their colors, and was happy when Jerry Buss bought the team and could call the team colors purple and gold. It hasn’t been since the early 1980s that the Lakers purple was called “Forum Blue”.

    Nice info…don’t know which of those two was weirder. I would have enjoyed saying “Forum Blue.”

    Wikipedia is wrong (in this instance at least; Wikipedia is often very wrong) in one regard (picky though this may be but I was a copyeditor for many years): the comma goes inside the quotation marks. Just saying.

    I’d already changed the double quotes to single quotes, and, for you, the commas are now inside the quotation marks. Thanks.

    What exactly is going on with those early Laker shorts? Is that a real belt or just part of the shorts?

Comments are closed.