USA TODAY Sports
It’s been 19 years since Jerry West left the Los Angeles Lakers front office to pursue opportunities elsewhere, a career that has included stints with the Memphis Grizzlies, Golden State Warriors and now that other team in L.A., but it’s hard to associate him with any franchise other than the purple and gold. His no. 44 Lakers jersey hangs in the rafters in the Staple Center, and West has always kept a close eye on the franchise he was a part of for multiple decades.
So it was only a matter of time before someone asked him for thoughts on what’s happened to the Lakers this past season, with the team missing the playoffs despite acquiring LeBron James in free agency and Magic Johnson abruptly stepping down as team president. In an interview with Sam Amick of The Athletic, West offered up his first comments on the chaos that has enveloped the team his Clippers share an arena with.
“My life has been the Lakers,” West said. “It’s an iconic brand, but there are things that happen – things that happen where everyone is trying to look for a reason that they happened. And if someone wants to walk away – and Earvin did it – there had to be reasons. But he did it. And honestly, he looked like he was a happy camper. He got the pressure off of him. I have no idea what he’s going to do with his life. Well, I know what he’s going to do with his life, he’s going to pursue his other interests, which are time-consuming. But he might have a greater interest in those than he does the day-to-day stuff in basketball, the criticism that’s involved. That’s not fun to see, particularly for someone like him. I wish him the best. I really do. And I’m just hopeful that we can beat them more than they beat us.”
West’s comments on Johnson seem to match the prevailing sentiment that Johnson was incredibly unhappy in his role. West will be directly competing with his former franchise to snag a major free agent this summer, and one would think the shakiness of the Lakers front office situation would give West and the Clippers a bit of an upper hand.
The summer is going to be wild and both L.A. teams will figure prominently into the proceedings.