Last year, Roland Lazenby’s fascinating biography of Jerry West — detailing his childhood in West Virginia and how that shaped a man driven by a fear of failure. A man who felt relief more than anything when he finally won an NBA title as a player. A fear that drove him as an executive with the Lakers that built the Showtime Lakers and later the Shaquille O’Neal/Kobe Bryant era.
Now West is writing his own autobiography (due out in a couple months) and Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News got an advanced look (via Eye On Basketball). He says the book is very West — unflinchingly honest. And very interesting.
West is an iconic Laker, but when Phil Jackson came in to the franchise (the first time) he changed the dynamics of power structure and with that pushed West out. Almost literally at one point — Jackson famously threw West out of the Lakers locker room after a game. Phil needed power, West had it and that was the seeds of the issue. West talked about that relationship — to say that there wasn’t one.
“So one of the problems I had with Phil was this,” West writes. “His office was right near mine and when he would arrive in the morning, he would walk right past and never even bother to wave or duck his head in to say hello.
“He would later say that he felt the need to stake out his territory, that on top of that he was ’a wack job,’ but I am sure it was more than that…
“Phil and I had no relationship,” West writes. “None. He didn’t want me around and had absolutely no respect for me–of that, I have no doubt.”
Go read Lazenby’s book. You can bet when West’s comes out we’ll be reading it, too.