Jerry West statue unveiling at Staples Center to take place Thursday at 6 p.m.
No longer will Jerry West's image be immortalized only in the NBA logo. At 6 p.m. Thursday outside Staples Center, it will also show up in the form of a statue.
This will be the third Lakers statue outside Staples Center, joining those of Magic Johnson and Chick Hearn. There are also statues depicting hockey player Wayne Gretzky and boxer Oscar De La Hoya. Johnson's statue was dedicated during the NBA All-Star game in Los Angeles in 2004, while Hearn's statue was unveiled last season.
The ceremony, which begins at 5 p.m, will be open to the public and will feature speeches from West, members of his family and teammates, colleagues and friends highlighting a storied career with the Lakers. During his playing career with the Lakers from 1960-1974, West led the team to an NBA championship in 1972, was a 14-time All-Star, a 10-time All-NBA selection and won the 1969 Finals MVP award, though the Lakers lost that series to the Boston Celtics. He also retired as the Lakers' all-time leading scorer with 25,192 points before Kobe Bryant eclipsed that mark last season. Then as general manager beginning in the 1982-83 season, West helped build seven championship Lakers teams, earned NBA executive-of-the-year honors in 1995 and brought in key pieces, such as Shaquille O'Neal and Bryant, that laid the foundation for the Lakers' three-peat from 2000-2002.
The statue will weigh 1,500 pounds and will be nearly 14 feet tall, with a granite pedestal. If West's remarks to The Times last week prove anything, it's that most of his comments during the ceremony will downplay his contributions.
"I never did anything in my life for recognition," West said at Malibu Beach, where he was promoting the Northern Trust Open golf tournament, for which he is executive director. "A lot of people who were around would probably say that, even some connected with the Lakers. But that's not what I work for. I work because it was the love of my life. It was a thing that allowed me the opportunity to have an education and more importantly in basketball let me have a career."
It probably will also be filled with laments that West won only one NBA championship and never beat the Celtics in the Finals.
"For all the times we came [so] close, I really felt in some respects that we let the city down because it was so supportive," West said. "When I see today what's being accomplished over the years when Jerry Buss has owned the Lakers, it's really been remarkable to see that transformation and to see the admiration the fans have for this franchise. I had a small part in that. I'm very grateful to have been part of that."
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