Jerry West Digital Collection

Michael Jordan

Oral History Clips

Michael Jordan
Jonathan Coleman
Interview Date Tesim:
Clip 1:
MJ: The first time I ever met Jerry West I knew the history, I'm a big history person when it comes to basketball and then the comparisons about he and I, Mr. Clutch, and things of that nature. I went in with a very open mind about this and we bonded just like that, just talking basketball, talking about our approach to the game, our understanding of the game, we have very similar likes, competitor, and everything, downplays his passion or his skill level all the time. If you ask him if he can play golf, he'll say I love the game, I don't know how good I am, but he 'll probably shoot 65-66-67.

JC:    You guys have played together right?

MJ:    Sure, many times. He's very outgoing to me. He received me about as quickly as I received him. Very open to communicating. If I needed anything, I could call Jerry, he supported, once he had a better understanding of me as a person, he supported a lot of my decision making, he understood a lot of my decision making and that was because we never really spent that type of time together, it was just that innate understanding between two people who are very similar for their passions about life, about people, about the game. I can tell you a lot of things, I've been sitting here telling you I know where he is because I'm pretty sure my passion for golf and relaxation at his age, I'd probably be at the club hanging out with the guys too, just kind of fitting in.    That's Jerry West to me, we' ll watch a game and critique a game, I critique the game as much as he probably critiques the game the way he's looking at it too.

JC: Have you watched a lot of games together?

MJ:    No, actually I went to a Lakers game when I first retired the first time, when he was still with the Lakers, he put me in his suite and we watched it, we were very observant of, we watched people, we watched the game, we talked about the game, Kobe Bryant was on the team at the time, I told my pros and cons, what I thought about Kobe Bryant, his were on the same parallels as what I was thinking. And we utilize our own experiences as basketball players to coexist on the same parallels. When I say what I thought about taking a game-winning shot, he had the same similar thoughts, past success, builds confidence, knowing when to read the defense, knowing when to take the shots, stop-pull up, my favorite shot, gangway shot, stop-pull up is his favorite shot, gangway shot, right left. There were so many parallels; it was kind of eerie in just the short time of knowing Jerry West. I fell in love with Jerry West.

Clip 2:
MJ: he always downplayed his success, which is a part of the competition, a part of the intellectual way of competing. I'm the same way, if we're sitting there playing cards, I don't really know how to play this game, but I'm going to figure it out, that type of attitude, once I saw Jerry doing it and I knew, it became a joke. Other guys started, we'd get down to Pinehurst, Jerry had to go out first because he hated playing slow, so he's gotta be the first so anybody that played with Jerry that morning, if your not fast, your going to hit your ball and he's going to be down there in the green. But I play fast too, so it was easy for us to go and play together, if you're on his team, he give you that type of confidence. If I play with someone, I want to make them at ease, I'm gonna try to give him that confidence, even if he may not have it, I want him to feel that confidence, that's my personality. When people are intimidated by my personality, I want to make that person laugh, because I want him to understand and bring me down to his level, so we can communicate and not where you're looking up at me the whole time, and he didn't either, that's his personality. I see that too, he brought me in the same way, when I first met him, he made me feel so comfortable, I said hey man, I like this dude because now I could take him off that pedestal, I didn't see him as the NBA logo, I saw him as a guy that played in the league, understood the same things I understood. We had similar interests.

Clip 3:

MJ:    Because he believes that he's sharing his feelings, he believes he's sharing his vision, he believes he's sharing his experiences, and for someone like me I welcome that because I think he's very genuine I don't think, he don't push himself on you. He basically talks about a good understanding of the game and in some ways, he pushes you he gives me more credit than probably I need but he' s doing it honestly he's not doing it to blow smoke up my ass, he'll tell you that too, I'm not telling you this to blow smoke up your ass. This is what I truly believe., I can see him doing that and that's because he' s so giving of himself, he's so passionate about a person he can be as honest and as open that he can, that's just Jerry and we all come to understand that and some ways, sometimes, I laugh at him. I remember the one time I talked to Jerry and he gave me so much good advice about a player..

JC:    Is this when you were GM?

MJ:    Yeah, and I said wow, and I was just getting into that business, you have more people lying, very few people honest about players and what they perceived about players because at the end of the day, they're either going to position themselves to take that player or move you away from that particular player that they like.

JC:    You don't know who to believe.

MJ:    Jerry was so honest that I had to take a step back and say is he really telling me the truth because I see it the same way and then I had to dig deep and say you know he's never lied to me, he 's always been honest with me, he's always giving me his feelings, I can trust him, even though I may not be able to trust all the other GMs, I know they try to position things, they try to tell me about a player that they're really trying to get rid of. Jerry was never that way; he was always honest even if it meant we were competing in the same arena.    I always thought that no matter what. Even to this day.

JC:    He was talking about you and Magic in one conversation, he said the reason, and I'll share this with you...

MJ:    Are you going to share it in the book, did he say it in the book?

JC:    There's very little that he hasn't said that couldn't be in the book, and he gets to see, there's a reason why he prefers your company more than Magic's and he likes Magic. But he said, when you're with Michael, Michael doesn't always have to be in the spotlight, he said, Magic needs to be in the spotlight, he needs to be courtside, he requires that. The nice thing is Michael doesn't require that, he can step back a little bit like me. That's one of the reasons he feels close to you.

MJ:    Right, I'd believe it.

JC:    That's significant to him.

MJ:    Yeah and the thing that he said to me...

JC:    That doesn't surprise you does it?

MJ:    No.

JC:    He loves Magic, he cried when Magic revealed that he had, when he found out Magic had...

MJ:    But he's honest, Jerry's honest and sometimes brutally honest and he actually told me that, he and I had this thing, he says, I know you're the most valuable player, I know you're the best player in the game and I know Magic Johnson's still in the game, but I think you're better than Magic Johnson. And he was the GM for the Lakers at the time. I think he was being honest, I don 't think he was sugarcoating it, he was really being honest. He said, I like Magic it's not that I dislike Magic.

JC:    Well, it's hard to dislike Magic.

MJ:    Right, he told me the difference between you two guys you don't wear it on your sleeve, Magic wears it on his sleeve.
A&M 3884; Series 13
Author Jonathan Coleman interviewed Michael Jordan for the book, West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life. Jordan is a retired professional basketball player who played for 15 seasons with the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards.

Clip 1:
Jordan describes his the first time he met Jerry West and his reactions to it.

Clip 2:
Jordan discusses seeing Jerry West as a friend and a contemporary and their similar interests.

Clip 3:
Jordan talks in depth about who Jerry West is as a person, as well as Jerry’s relationship with both himself and Magic Johnson.
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Personal Names:
West, Jerry, 1938- and Jordan, Michael, 1963-
Oral Histories