Jerry West continues to have acrimony with the Los Angeles Lakers, the franchise with which he starred as both a player and executive.
West groused to The Athletic that the organization rescinded his lifelong season tickets he says former owner Dr. Jerry Buss promised him — and didn’t even have the courtesy to make a phone call about it.
“It was a cold phone text to my wife,” West, 83, said. “No one had the nerve to call me, but that’s how petty they are, OK? And I love the Lakers, OK? I love to see them do well. It’s great for basketball. I’m proud of everything that happened when I was there. I’m proud of everything that happened when I wasn’t there — the positives.
“But sometimes you feel like you’re discarded, like a piece of trash. And there’s a couple of people over there — not Jeanie — but there’s a couple of people over there that, uh … I don’t get it. I don’t. … I always had a great relationship with Jeanie — at least I thought I did. I don’t know where it is now.”
West did not sound interested in any type of reconciliation.
“No, it’s too late; it’s too late,” he said. “I don’t need to do that, OK? I really don’t need (it). It’s just (bothersome) how people change so much. And I don’t understand it, but it’s fine. It’s fine.”
As a player, West won an NBA title for the Lakers and made 14 All-Star teams. The Lakers went on to win six championships with him in the front office. He was there for the Showtime Lakers of the 1980s, and engineered the trade for Kobe Bryant — plus the signing signings of Shaquille O’Neal and coach Phil Jackson — that drove the franchise’s three-peat in the early aughts.
However, there has been a bitter fissure between West and the Lakers organization.
According to Stephen A. Smith in 2019, one of the first issues was that West felt Dr. Jerry Buss reneged on a handshake agreement for a $1 million bonus if he landed Shaq. While this bonus was eventually paid out, according to Smith, the disrespect of Dr. Buss dragging his feet made West want to compete against the Lakers as an executive with the Grizzlies, Warriors and Clippers.
More recently, West, currently an consultant for the rival Clippers, recruited then-free agent Kawhi Leonard, trying to steer him away from the Lakers, who he called a “s–t show.”
West was also incensed when current owner Jeanie Buss listed her five most important Lakers ever: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, LeBron James and her ex-fiancee Phil Jackson.
Speaking with legendary former Post columnist Peter Vecsey on the “Hoop du Jour” podcast, West called the snub “one of the most offensive things I’ve ever heard in my life.”