West by West My charmed, tormented life

Jerry West, 1938-

Book - 2011

Basketball great Jerry West tells his story--from his tough childhood in West Virginia, to his unbelievable college success at West Virginia University, his 40-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, and his relationships with NBA legends.

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Subjects
Published
New York : Little, Brown and Co 2011.
Edition
1st ed
Language
English
Physical Description
xiii, 338 p., [32] p. of plates : ill. (some col.) ; 25 cm
ISBN
9780316053495
031605349X
Main Author
Jerry West, 1938- (-)
Other Authors
Jonathan Coleman (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

West possesses one of the most enviable carrers in basketball—a 1960 Olympic Gold Medal, all-star selection every year of his 14-year pro career, a championship in 1972 with his beloved Los Angeles Lakers, a ranking of fifth all time in points per game (27), Hall of Fame induction in 1980, and, later, as Lakers general manager, leadership of the dynasties of the 1980s and the early 2000s (three-peat, anyone?). His silhouette has even served as the NBA's official logo since 1969. Still, as this memoir makes too clear, West's success has been forged out of tragic pain, from an impoverished, abusive childhood in rural West Virginia to the loss of a sibling early in life to devastating defeats in NCAA and NBA title games to political losses within the Lakers hierarchy that resulted in his departure from the team in 2002. If West's star is among the brightest in the NBA firmament, the dark side of his success, told with startling candor, is almost too painful to learn. But fans of the game will want to understand what made Jerry West run. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Most basketball fans know West, All-American, NBA Hall-of-Famer, the basis for the silhouette on the NBA logo, and, later, coach and team executive, a Lakers veteran. He coauthored an autobiography, Mr. Clutch, in 1970, but now new generations of readers will get to know him much better. Certainly, here are the requisite accounts of games, players, and coaches (including insights and opinions about Kobe Bryant, Shaq, and Phil Jackson), but West, who ironically makes a point about having never visited a mental-health counselor, spends much of his time "on the couch" baring a soul that was tortured by an abusive father and the death of an older brother in the Korean War. Likewise, he writes of those seven NBA championship series defeats of the Lakers by the Boston Celtics (six with West as a player, one with him as general manager). Such losses, personal and professional, were dangerous stuff for someone with a family history of depression. VERDICT Despite West's bleak moods and obsessions it is clear that he has achieved at the highest level both on and off the court, and, from that, readers may draw inspiration. This will appeal to the basketball fan who wants a look at the man behind the statistics.—Jim Burns, Jacksonville P.L., FL [Page 81]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Just as the idea of onion blossoms, canned peaches, and sex on the seashore are all better than the real thing, the same can be said for the idea, the mystique of Jerry West. In fact, almost anything is better than this intolerable, self-aggrandizing affair, including halitosis, botulism, and that awful salt water rash on your bum. "Bear with me," warns West on page six before treating readers to the blah blah blah of his hardscrabble upbringing and his bullying, coal miner father. We get hints that this childhood incubated some form of greatness (perhaps great self-absorption?). After the death of his brother in Korea, West used basketball as a form of control; the court became "my sanctuary and my refuge, the place where I felt most alive." But as he chronicles his supernaturally awesome play, coaching tenure, and executive career, we glimpse the "real" West behind the prickly reputation and reports of being a "complicated" man. He's a dick. I don't envy Coleman, who must have been constipated for weeks after this project. "I have been the silhouetted figure of the NBA logo since 1969," West writes. That's the kind of mystique that can be left alone. — Douglas Lord, "Books for Dudes," LJ Reviews 6/21/12 (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

A pressure-embracing superstar with the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1960s and 1970s, West (called "Mr. Clutch") was so revered that the NBA used his silhouette for its famed logo. After a legendary Hall of Fame playing career, West became the Lakers' general manager, helping to assemble squads that won eight world championships in the 1980s and 2000s. Such lofty accomplishments did little to abate a self-destructive competitive spirit and crippling bouts of depression, the results of a miserable childhood in West Virginia. West's beloved older brother, David, was killed in the Korean War; their father regularly beat the skinny, younger, West, inspiring a murderous, unforgiving hatred. "And the real enemy is myself, " writes West, in this candid and self-reflecting autobiography. That willingness to share, however, extends little beyond his tortured soul, as he holds back in detailing his occasionally tense relationships with coaches like Phil Jackson and Pat Riley and storied players such as Kobe Bryant (who declined to be interviewed for the book). West's reluctance to detail his dealings with others coupled with the authors' anecdotal style lead to a lack of perspective and narrative heft that doesn't befit the rich, complex life of such an iconic sports figure. 16 pages color photos, 14 b&w photos. (Oct.) [Page ]. Copyright 2011 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

The coach responsible for the success of the Lakers for the past forty years describes his difficult childhood, being a star player at West Virginia University, his career, and his relationships with sports legends.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

The coach responsible for the championship-winning success of the Lakers for the past 40 years describes his difficult childhood, being a star player at West Virginia University, his career and his relationships with sports legends from Wilt Chamberlain to Shaquille O'Neal. 150,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

"He is one of basketball's towering figures: "Mr. Clutch," who mesmerized his opponents and fans. The coach who began the Lakers' resurgence in the 1970s. The general manager who helped bring "Showtime" to Los Angeles, creating a championship-winning force that continues to this day. Now, for the first time, the legendary Jerry West tells his story-from his tough childhood in West Virginia, to his unbelievable college success at West Virginia University, his 40-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, and his relationships with NBA legends like Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal, and Kobe Bryant. Unsparing in its self-assessment and honesty, WEST BY WEST is far more than a sports memoir: it is a profoundconfession and a magnificent inspiration"--

Review by Publisher Summary 4

He is one of basketball's towering figures: "Mr. Clutch," who mesmerized his opponents and fans. The coach who began the Lakers' resurgence in the 1970s. The general manager who helped bring "Showtime" to Los Angeles, creating a championship-winning force that continues to this day. Now, for the first time, the legendary Jerry West tells his story-from his tough childhood in West Virginia, to his unbelievable college success at West Virginia University, his 40-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, and his relationships with NBA legends like Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal, and Kobe Bryant. Unsparing in its self-assessment and honesty, West by West is far more than a sports memoir: it is a profound confession and a magnificent inspiration.

Review by Publisher Summary 5

He is one of basketball's towering figures: "Mr. Clutch," who mesmerized his opponents and fans. The coach who began the Lakers' resurgence in the 1970s. The general manager who helped bring "Showtime" to Los Angeles, creating a championship-winning force that continues to this day. Now, for the first time, the legendary Jerry West tells his story-from his tough childhood in West Virginia, to his unbelievable college success at West Virginia University, his 40-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, and his relationships with NBA legends like Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal, and Kobe Bryant. Unsparing in its self-assessment and honesty, WEST BY WEST is far more than a sports memoir: it is a profound confession and a magnificent inspiration.