Former Lakers General Manager Jerry West was introduced Monday as a consultant for Los Angeles Clippers, and he said he hopes to help the team establish a winning tradition.
“For them to want me to come here and maybe think I can help, I am really flattered,” West said. “I am sold on the ownership here. I think they want to establish their own identity in this town, and that is what to me is most important. Establish their own identity and ability to win at the very highest level.”
Speaking to reporters at the team’s practice facility in Playa Vista, Clippers coach and president of basketball operations Doc Rivers called it a “great day” for the team, saying it goes along with his goal — and that of team owner Steve Ballmer — to make the franchise a “world-class” organization.
“We’re not going to rest until we are the best,” he said.
West gave a quick recap of his career, thanking the late Lakers owner Jerry Buss for giving him the opportunity to work as a general manager, then thanking his employers with the Memphis Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors. And he said he was drawn by the Clippers’ commitment to building a winning tradition.
“I think it’s going to be fun for me at this point in life,” he said.
He vowed to the fans that he will give his “undivided attention” as he works to “make a difference” with the program.
The Clippers have qualified for the playoffs in six consecutive seasons but have never reached the Western Conference finals during their 39 seasons in California — six in San Diego and 33 in Los Angeles. The Clippers 2016-17 season ended with a first-round, seven-game playoff loss to the Utah Jazz.
The team is facing the potential loss of all-stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin to free agency.
The 79-year-old West has spent the past six seasons as an executive board member with the Golden State Warriors doing “a myriad of things, most importantly serving as a sounding board and providing input to (general manager Bob Myers) and ownership on the team on everything related to basketball operations — trades, free agency, draft, etc.,” Warriors Vice President, Communications, Raymond Ridder said.
West was appointed as the Los Angeles Lakers general manager before the 1982-83 season. His personnel moves and trades helped the team to three NBA championships in the 1980s and three more in the 2000s. His most memorable deals include the 1996 draft day trade that brought Kobe Bryant to the Lakers.
West left the Lakers in 2002 to become president of basketball operations with the Memphis Grizzlies. He was selected as NBA Executive of the Year in 2004 and retired in 2007.
–City News Service
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