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Jerry West: The Life and Legend of a Basketball Icon Kindle Edition
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“Jerry West is one of the best five or six basketball players who ever lived. However, his career paralleled the greatest winner in the history of team sports, Bill Russell. West’s Los Angeles Lakers lost to Russell’s Boston Celtics six times in the NBA finals, lending a Sisyphean context to West's playing career. It was only after Russell retired that West was able to win his single championship as a player. Later, as the Lakers’ general manager, he was able to build seven championship teams, but as related by Lazenby, longtime NBA writer and author of six previous basketball books, readers will conclude that West’s administrative championships did not compensate for the losses as a player. Lazenby reaches back into West’s hardscrabble West Virginia youth to provide a background for the hypercompetitive athlete to come. He incorporates contemporary interviews with West—and t...
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B00338QEM4
- Publisher : ESPN (February 17, 2010)
- Publication date : February 17, 2010
- Language : English
- File size : 1709 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 448 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #841,554 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Lazenby was told that to understand West, he needed to understand West Virginia, where West was born and raised and played for the University of West Virginia. Lazenby spends the first 75 pages, detailing the history of West Virginia, exploring West's ancestry and interviewing many of his family members, relatives and boyhood friends. While this does help to explain West, I'm afraid it's about 50 pages too long for many readers.
But, by the time you finish this nearly 400-page biography, you'll have completely forgotten about the book's slow start.
Lazenby achieves his goal of explaining the mystery of Jerry West. Jerry's mother was a perfectionist, who was a loner and shy. Jerry, who had little relationship with his abusive father, took after his mother. He was also deeply affected by the death of his older brother in the Korean War.
West was never able to enjoy his accomplishments. Nothing he ever did was good enough. Instead, he settled for disappointment, harsh criticism or perceived slights by others. He would go through long periods of depression when he wasn't playing well. He was extremely competitive, had more heart than any other player, obsessed with winning and driven to greatness. He was humble, shy and reserved.
Lazenby says West's rise to the top of basketball was "absolutely improbable." West was physically frail through high school, college and much of his NBA career. As an NBA rookie he was 6-foot-3 and 172 pounds. Coach Bill Sharman called West, known as Mr. Clutch, "the tallest 6-foot-3 player ever." Sharman also felt West was "probably the greatest defensive guard ever."
Lazenby gives a good account of West's high school and college basketball careers, particularly the rivalry between West and Oscar Robertson of the University of Cincinnati to be considered the best college player in the nation. The book is equally divided between West's pre-NBA years and NBA career.
West's heroics and heartbreaks in the NBA, losing year after year to the Boston Celtics for the championship, are well chronicled. West and the Lakers finally won a championship in 1972, beating the New York Knicks. Lazenby points out that if West had scored a total of 10 more points in five games, he would have had an NCAA title and four NBA titles.
After his playing days, West served three unhappy years as the Lakers coach and then became their successful general manager.
This is an insightful biography about one of the NBA's greatest players ever. It should be on every basketball fan's "must-read" list.