If you didn’t, now you do. Jerry West is a legendary figure in the NBA annals and one of the few superstars that was able to make a highly successful transition into management. Typically, the best general managers were average NBA players or never even played in the NBA.Legendary names like Michael Jordan, Isiah Thomas, Kevin McHale, Elgin Baylor, and Larry Bird have all failed miserably as general managers. Meanwhile, guys like Rod Thorn, Donnie Walsh, Kevin O’Connor, Danny Ainge, and RC Buford have done great jobs. The only successful general manager in today’s game that was a really good player is Joe Dumars. West may be the best general manager of all time. He was able to make trades that led to Magic Johnson, James Worthy, and Kobe Bryant and also worked the cap to perfection in order to sign Shaq to a free agent deal. He even managed to get the Memphis Grizzlies into the playoffs twice. Since he’s left, they’re irrelevant again.
Jerry West joined The Dan Patrick Show on Tuesday to talk March Madness and hoops in general. I know I’m showing my age, but when Jerry West talks hoops, it’s like EF Hutton, everyone listens.
On if he’s ever gotten over losing in the NCAA Championship game:
“Not really. That was probably one of the biggest disappointments I’ve ever had in my life. I clearly thought we were going to win that game. I personally had foul problems in that game.”
Did you enjoy your winning more than you hated your losing?
“Well, no, to be honest with you. Everyone competes at a different level of course and I think everyone’s mind is wired differently. I just hated losing and it was probably one of the things that was most detrimental to me…to get over losses.”
On the troubles of scouting such young players these days:
“The younger players that are drafted are all very talented, that’s not the problem. The problem is do you have enough patience to work with them. Do you have someone there to encourage them so they don’t get discouraged. How are they going to get better. They’re certainly not going to get a chance to play unless they’re a LeBron James, a Kobe Bryant or somewhat of that nature and there’s very few of them around. The one thing you can see about kids, you can see if they compete. You can almost tell in warm-ups, they work a lot harder in warm-ups, but in games they just seem to have a determination and a drive.”
On who has a high basketball IQ in today’s game:
“I look at players today, I’ve watched Kobe Bryant grow up to be one of those players that has a great mind. LeBron James, to me, at his age right now this kid has one of the highest basketball IQ’s I’ve ever seen…For someone that size and someone that plays the game the way he does. A Chris Paul, a very high basketball IQ, he just seems to see everything. Deron Williams, and again I’m going to miss people along the way, but those are the ones that sort of stand out in my mind that I watch play today.”
On Phil Jackson saying the Lakers lacked that killer instinct:
“Well, I think players get tired of hearing it to be honest with you. The object is to win and to win at a high level. They clearly I think have the best team in the league right now. They have two or three players if they get this Bynum kid back, but Phil complains if they win by 25, that’s his nature. What’s a killer instinct, a killer instinct is to win in the NBA.”