Jerry West Digital Collection

Jonnie West

Oral History Clips

Jonnie West
Jonathan Coleman
Interview Date Tesim:
Clip 1:
JC:    How vivid to you at twelve was his stepping away from the Lakers?

JW:    I remember it a lot. I remember exactly what was going on when all that happened. Me, my mom, David, and my dad were all going to Alaska to go fishing. He wasn't there at the press conference, which is how he is. He doesn't want all the attention. We'd left that day, and he was nowhere to be found for those next couple of days, because we were off in the middle of the ocean in Alaska.

JC:    Right. He had let a couple of people know we were going to Alaska.

JW:    I think the Lakers PR guy handled the press conference.

JC:    I saw the video. John followed by Mitch.

JW:    Yes. I think that's what sticks out in my head, that he did it how he probably wanted to do it. Basketball was such a large part of is his whole entire life. For him to step away from it and be as committed as he always was to it was tough for him. I don't think he wanted to be in front of all those people when he said goodbye. I think he wanted to get away and ride off into the sunset. It's sort of sad.

Clip 2:
JC:    Your dad and I have talked a lot about individual sports versus team sports; primarily about how much he loves and is frustrated by golf. Do you think he would have been happier as an individual athlete as opposed to being part of a team?

JW:    I don't know. I think he kind of... this is going to sound bad, but he kind of made basketball an individual sport. Always, no matter what, everything was his fault, and he never let anybody else take the blame . He put it all on him. I think that's one of the things that hurt him so bad. He couldn't accept letting other people take the blame for everything. He always talks about how he could control basketball.

Clip 3:
JW:    Yes. I remember we came up the elevator from the floor of the coliseum, and the elevator door opened and there were tons of people standing there. All the security guys were saying, "We've got to move. We've got to move. Come on. Let' s go." He probably stopped for at least ten minutes and signed just about everything that was out there. A lot of people don 't do that. He does like the attention, but he doesn't like it too much.

JC:    I think he likes it here in West Virginia in particular.

JW :    Yes, it makes him proud. It 's something that makes me proud, too. People just come up to - you whether or not they're being truthful - I've heard so many people from here say, "I played with your dad," "I played against your dad." That sort of brings a sense of pride, seeing all the things he did here. People are constantly telling you how they grew up watching him and idolizing him, and he was their role model. Probably thousands of people have said that to me, and it just makes me proud, and I know it makes him proud. I think that's one of the reasons he loves West Virginia so much and why it will always be a part of him.
A&M 3884; Series 13
Author Jonathan Coleman interviewed Jonnie West for the book, West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life. Jonnie West is a American professional basketball executive and the son of Jerry West.

Clip 1:
West talks about how tough it was for his father to leave basketball

Clip 2:
West discusses how his father West made individuality and clutch players in basketball relevant

Clip 3:
West discusses Jerry and his West Virginia fans, and how West Virginia will always be a part of him
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Personal Names:
West, Jerry, 1938- and West, Jonnie
Oral Histories