Hall of Famer Jerry West was the architect of one of the greatest dynasties in NBA history, the LA Lakers. The 2x executive of the year is responsible for pulling off some of the biggest trades in league history.
Arguably one of the greatest players in NBA history, Jerry West played his entire career for the LA Lakers. The former Finals MVP had one of the most decorated careers, with the NBA logo being evidence of that.
The Hall of Famer was able to replicate his pro basketball success in his corporate career as well. West is one of the most successful GMs in league history. West, who was the Lakers GM in 1996, made a bold move by trading Vlade Divac for a 17-year old Kobe Bryant.
West had the foresight that none would ever think off as trading a 7″1′ center for a player, who hadn’t played a single game in the NBA, could have gone either way. However, the move turned out to be a masterstroke as Kobe Bryant would become an all-time great.
The Divac trade for Kobe helped create cap space for the LA Lakers, helping West acquire Shaquille O’Neal. The former Orlando center was one of the biggest free agents during the time.
The LA Lakers dynasty: 1996-2004
Kobe and Shaq teaming up, was the beginning of a new era in the NBA. Though they did setbacks initially, the iconic duo would go on to annihilate opponents. The Lakers would 3-peat from 2000-02, with Big Diesel being crowned Finals MVP in each case.
The purple and gold team made the finals four times and the conference finals twice. The duo of Shaq and Kobe would have 60+ wins regular-season twice, winning 54% of their games in the regular season. The hiring of Phil Jackson proved to be a boon for the franchise.
Both Kobe and Shaq complimented each other to the fullest. To date remain one of the most iconic duos in NBA history. West’s foresight the acquire Kobe and sign Shaq speaks volumes of his basketball knowledge and negotiation skills.
The duo would part ways in 2004, after playing 8 seasons together, with Shaq being traded to the Miami Heat. However, this would not end their championship run as O’Neal would win his 4th title with the Heat while Kobe would back-to-back with the Lakers, taking the Mamba’s total tally to 5 championships.
West would continue his successful reign as an executive with the Golden State Warriors. The team would win their first title in 2015 after four decades. In 2017, West signed with the LA Clippers, helping them revamp their roster. In 2019, the Clippers would sign All-Stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.