Jerry West autobiography reportedly details troubled personality
It's well documented that Jerry West remains a conflicted man. His perfectionist personality helped drive him as a player (1972 NBA championship, 1969 Finals MVP) and general manager (seven NBA titles). It also has contributed to his uneasiness, ranging from allowing the Lakers' losses to the Boston Celtics to consume him and refusing as an executive to watch Laker games.
So it shouldn't come as a surprise that West's autobiography, "West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life," sheds light on his complex and torn personality. As noted by the San Jose Mercury News' Tim Kawakami, who received an advance copy, the book apparently features West's blunt honesty about his relationships within the NBA and on his own psyche.
--West expressed concerns about Phil Jackson dating executive vice president Jeanie Buss, daughter of owner Jerry Buss. Jackson apparently never greeted West at work. And West confirmed Roland Lazenby's reporting in the Chicago-Sun Times that detailed Jackson kicking West out of the locker room during the 1999-2000 season.
"So one of the problems I had with Phil was this,” West wrote. "His office was right near mine and when he would arrive in the morning, he would walk right past and never even bother to wave or duck his head in to say hello.
"He would later say that he felt the need to stake out his territory, that on top of that he was ’a wack job,’ but I am sure it was more than that."
"Phil and I had no relationship,” West writes. "None. He didn’t want me around and had absolutely no respect for me–of that, I have no doubt."
--West felt his relationship with Buss changed when the Lakers moved out of the Forum in 1999 to Staples Center, and Buss was around less and less.
"The close nature of our relationship began to change, and not only did I feel more and more unappreciated, or under-appreciated," West wrote, according to Kawakami, "but my own personal demons, rooted in my childhood, were threatening me."
--West laments "how unwilling Kobe was to defer to Shaq in any way."
--West admits visiting a therapist at his wife's urging: "I felt there was no way that any therapist could understand my particular torment and also felt in some respects they were sicker than I was."
--West details how the death of his brother, David, in the Korean War propelled him to play basketball as a form of escape.
I'm in the process of acquiring an advance copy, which is surely going to be a must-read for NBA fans. Forget obsessing about the apparent salacious details and real or perceived slights West felt. His apparent frankness should provide great understanding on what exactly made The Logo tick.
-- Mark Medina
Email the Lakers blog at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Jerry West. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times