Magic Johnson, LeBron James, Michael Jordan and more react to death of Jerry West: 'He was the silhouette for a reason'

On Wednesday morning, the Los Angeles Clippers announced the death of basketball legend Jerry West.

Throughout the day, the basketball world took time to pay their respects to the late guard, a 14-time All-Star and championship executive whose silhouette became the inspiration for the NBA's iconic logo.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver released a statement Wednesday morning, sharing his condolences to the basketball great and noting his excellence as a executive as well as player.

"Jerry’s four decades with the Lakers also included a successful stint as a head coach and a remarkable run in the front office that cemented his reputation as one of the greatest executives in sports history. He helped build eight championship teams during his tenure in the NBA – a legacy of achievement that mirrors his on-court excellence," Silver said in the statement. "I valued my friendship with Jerry and the knowledge he shared with me over many years about basketball and life."

The Clippers released a statement on behalf of owner Steve Ballmer, who praised his friend and colleague. West had been a member of the Clippers' executive board since 2017.

"This is a hard day," Ballmer wrote, speaking personally about his relationship with West. "From the first day I met Jerry seven years ago, he inspired me with his intellect, honesty and enthusiasm. He never stopped."

Earvin "Magic" Johnson, whose career with the Lakers took place under West's leadership as general manager, posted a lengthy tribute to his colleague and friend, sharing personal anecdotes about West. Johnson and West won five championships with Los Angeles during that span.

"Every time I achieved a goal or crossed a milestone, one of the first calls I received was from Jerry West. When I started my business, was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame, was named Lakers President of Basketball Operations – he would always pick up the phone and give me a personalized call to congratulate me," Johnson wrote. "Beyond his basketball accolades as a basketball player and NBA executive, Jerry West was a great man, a leader of men, fiercely loved his family and friends, and despite holding jobs with other franchises, he was a Lakers fan for life ... Today is a sad day for basketball fans and sports fans across the globe."

Current Lakers star LeBron James took to social media to praise West for his friendship. "Will truly miss our convos my dear friend!" James wrote on X. "Rest in Paradise my guy!"

James followed up with a second post about his "mentor" and "friend," adding, "Hopefully I continued to make you proud."

NBA great Michael Jordan released a statement via ESPN's Stephen A. Smith, which Smith read on Wednesday's episode of "First Take."

"I am so deeply saddened at the news of Jerry's passing. He was truly a friend and a mentor. Like an older brother to me," Jordan said. "I always wish I could have played against him as a competitor, but the more I came to know him, I wish I had been his teammate ... Rest in Peace, Logo."

Smith also spoke about West's passing on "First Take," speaking about what West meant to the basketball world as a whole.

"The basketball community, the world over, is mourning this particular morning because Jerry West was simply one of the great ones. He was the silhouette for a reason," Smith said.

The Golden State Warriors, where West served as an executive board member from 2011-17 and where he helped the team to two NBA championships, released a statement on behalf of majority ownership Joe Lacob. In the statement, Lacob praised West and spoke personally about how he idolized West growing up.

"He did so much for the NBA, the game of basketball and each of the teams he was associated with during his unmatched career, including the Warriors. Jerry had a profound and immense impact on our franchise and was instrumental in our recent decade of success," Lacob wrote. "To me, he was basketball. He was not just about the actual game, but he personified competitiveness. He was the most competitive individual I have ever met, settling for nothing short of greatness. He had to win. It consumed him. He was bigger than life. He was an icon."

In addition, Warrior head coach Steve Kerr recorded a video recognizing West, calling him "one of the architects" of Golden State's recent success and referring to him as a "valued mentor."

"Jerry lived an incredible life. Clearly one of the great figures in NBA history, one of the greatest players of all time, one of the greatest executives ever," Kerr said. "He was a wonderful man, wonderful mentor, and I'm so thankful to have gotten to know him later in his life.

Another NBA legend, Pau Gasol, expressed his gratitude for West on social media as well. Gasol, who was best known for his time with the Lakers, started his NBA career playing with the Memphis Grizzlies from 2001 to 2008, lining up with West's tenure as general manager in Memphis.

"Rest in peace, dear Jerry. Thank you for everything you have done and given to this game," Gasol wrote.

Arkansas head coach John Calipari, a giant in the world of college basketball, took to social media to honor West, calling his passing "a shock." West was general manager of the Grizzlies during the same era that Calipari was the head coach of the University of Memphis Tigers, and the two formed a friendship during that time.

"The LOGO impacted every aspect of our sport," Calipari said on X. "Our long conversations over the years were basketball classes for me."

Byron Scott, a three-time NBA champion with the Lakers in the 1980s, noted West's contributions to both the Lakers franchise, and his importance to him personally.

"It's because of Jerry West that there was even 'Showtime.' It's because of you that I am who I am today. You believed in me when no one else did and for that I'm forever grateful," Scott wrote on X, calling West his "Basketball Dad."

West Virginia men's basketball also took the time to pay respects to West, who played with the Mountaineers from 1957 to 1960, calling him an "iconic figure in basketball history." West, who was born and raised in West Virginia, had his No. 44 retired by WVU in 2005, becoming the first basketball player to receive that honor in the school's history.

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin honored the lifelong West Virginian as well.

"When you think of basketball, you think of Jerry West. From the coalfields of WV to the sport's biggest stages, Jerry demonstrated his mastery of the sport with grace and humility," Manchin said in a statement. "He was a world-class athlete, a proud West Virginian, and a great friend. Rest in peace, Jerry."

The Los Angeles Dodgers paid its respects as well, noting West's impact in the Los Angeles sports world and calling West "an indelible figure on the Los Angeles sports landscape for more than 60 years."

Journalists and pundits also shared their condolences over West's death, praising the late basketball player for his impact on the NBA. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski wrote on X about West's impact shortly after the announcement.

"Jerry West lived a profound basketball and American life — iconic as a player, executive and looming figure in the history of the game," Wojnarowski wrote. "His loss leaves a massive void."

The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, where West was enshrined twice — once as a player in 1980, and again as co-captain of the 1960 U.S. Olympic Team in 2010 — honored the late player with a statement on social media.

"As a player and an executive, his profound impact on the game of basketball is matched only by his character and integrity," read the statement. "His contributions to basketball will be forever memorialized at the Hall of Fame."

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