The Los Angeles Lakers, at long last, unveiled a statue of legend Jerry West at Staples Center on Thursday as commissioner David Stern and others offered kind words about the NBA great. West, whose silhouette already appears on the NBA logo, has been an integral part of the Lakers' success for decades, both as a player and general manager. His statue joins those of Magic Johnson, Wayne Gretzky, Oscar De La Hoya and Chuck Hearn.
In front of a wild crowd, West took the podium and spoke of how he was humbled and honored by the statue.
He had prepared a speech, but struggled to begin it as fans behind metal gates chanted, "Jerry, Jerry!"
"This is kind of awkward for me," West said, citing his small-town beginnings in West Virginia. "And to be honored by the people I admire most is very meaningful."
Shaquille O'Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elgin Baylor and Bill Walton were all in attendance, with current Lakers' star Kobe Bryant delivering a taped message during the ceremony.
West earned just one NBA Championship, in 1972, but was a 14-time All-Star and 10-time All-NBA first-teamer during his career. Following his playing career, West coached the Lakers before becoming the general manager, laying the foundation for numerous NBA titles.
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