LeBron James Praises Jerry West, Predicts How Much He Would Average in Today’s NBA

Brad Sullivan
3 Min Read

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James and former Lakers legend Jerry West have long had deep respect for each other, with James now indicating that West’s skills would have allowed him to thrive in the current NBA.

West spent 14 seasons as a member of the Lakers from 1960 to 1974 and put together a Hall of Fame career, where he was known for his consistent production, leadership and knack for clutch shots.

After West retired, he served as head coach and then general manager for the Lakers, playing a key role in the team’s iconic “Showtime” era in the 1980s. Later on, he managed to acquire both Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, who played key roles in the franchise’s last five NBA championships.

Criticism has periodically been directed at players of West’s era, with the inference that they compiled their statistics against inferior competition, compared to that of the NBA in 2020.

Despite being born more than a decade after West’s last game, James has never been one of those individuals. During his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat and now that he plays in a Lakers uniform, James has often gone out of his way to speak of West with reverence.

A chief reason why James is loyal to West is that the Hall of Famer had the same struggles that James has had when it comes to winning NBA titles.

In his 14 seasons, West’s Lakers reached the finals nine times and only won once, in 1972. James’ teams have also made the finals on nine occasions, with only three victories among that group.

When James was the subject of criticism about failing in the NBA Finals, West dismissed the notion that coming up short in any way diminished James’ career.

Such hypothetical questions about the viability of putting players in different eras always boils down to opinion, but as a student of the game, James knows that West would have made for a great teammate.

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Brad is a freelance writer for LakersDaily.com, who can clearly recall watching Lakers games in 1972 as they captured the first of their 11 Los Angeles-based titles. The franchise's evolution into a beloved and iconic franchise among its fan base since that memorable year allows for a wider perspective to be a part of his writing about the team's current fortunes.