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Jerry West's autobiography focuses on depression

October 17, 2011 |  7:57 am

Below are excerpts from a recent conversation with former Lakers player and General Manager Jerry West, whose autobiography, "West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life," written with Jonathan Coleman, is to be formally released on Wednesday. You can listen to the entire 30-minute interview in the video above.

On his depression: "It's something that's been a problem in my life and still will be until the day I die. Most people will look at that and wonder how someone like that can be depressed. I have lived my childhood and had a career as a player in college to get an education only because I had a skill, and then to become a basketball player here in Los Angeles and watch this franchise grow and the enormous appeal that stands today. But there is more to the person than just an athlete. Sometimes you have to come to grips with who you are. ... I'm not a victim here. I don't want to be seen as a victim at all. But self-esteem is very difficult for me."

On his abusive father: "I know the difference between corporal punishment and abuse. I felt like I was a great kid and didn't do anything wrong, but obviously my father didn't feel that. To this day, it's probably left me wondering if I'm capable of being a father. I'm not comfortable with the word 'love' because I never saw it as a kid."

On having no relationship with former Lakers Coach Phil Jackson: "It didn't feel very good when someone would walk right by me and not even acknowledge you're there. But that's Phil. He did the best job possible, but it was not a good time for me. Frankly, you start to feel under-appreciated and undervalued. It was time for me to go, but it was best for the Lakers and best for me." 

On his complicated feelings toward Lakers owner Jerry Buss: "I probably had worn out my welcome. I overstepped my bounds sometimes. But I will be forever grateful to him for allowing me to be with him as long as I could, but it was time for me to go."

On acquiring Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant: "When the fruition of it came, I was exhausted. I had to go in the hospital. I don't sleep a lot anyway and have a very inquisitive mind. When you're like that, it creates more problems for you. It was a watershed day for the Lakers and Jerry Buss. When it didn't look very promising, he said, 'Let's keep going.' This wasn't about me ever. This was about people working very hard and diligently. People get credit, and I got far too much credit." 


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-- Mark Medina

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