We’re starting to learn a lot more about how Jerry West picked a job with the Clippers over continuing his stint with the Warriors. The Los Angels Clippers hired West to help fix the franchise over the summer, and the move came after a long period of success that West had as part-owner and advisor for the Golden State Warriors.
West has said the Warriors are still close to his heart, and he thinks everyone, even his Clippers, are playing catch-up, but it sounds like his departure from Golden State was a bit sadder than first thought.
Sports Illustrated published an excerpt from the book Golden Days: West’s Lakers, Steph’s Warriors, and the California Dreamers Who Reinvented Basketball on Thursday that includes a scene where the writer, Jack McCallum, watched Game 4 of the NBA Finals with West in his home, rather in Cleveland.
In it, West describes how uncomfortable he is with traveling with the team, even on the brink of another NBA title.
“Oh, hell, I never wanted to go on the road,” says West, squirming in his well-worn spot on the couch. “You feel like you’re a distraction when you’re around. There’s enough going on there that they don’t need me. The other thing is, when you’re in crowds you get so many people… Look, some are very nice. I understand they want a picture, and I don’t like to say no. But, my Gawd! So many. I enjoy being around people. But not that much.”
West does seem pretty sad about his slow exile from the Warriors, who simply didn’t need someone like West now that the dynasty is established there. McCallum points out that West worked his magic when the Warriors weren’t the force they are now, and seeing as how the team has evolved, someone like West to help build a team isn’t as necessary.
Additionally, the piece reveals that Warriors owner Joe Lacob cut his salary — the number McCallum throws out is he got his $2 million salary sliced in half — which signaled the end of his time there. It seems like his exit from the team was in motion even before they beat the Cavaliers for the second time in three seasons.
“The pain of losing,” West said, “is so much stronger than the joy of winning.”
In this case, he seems prepared to lose more than he wins for a bit with the Clippers. But it’s tough to bet against the kind of success he’s had in his time around basketball.
(Via Sports Illustrated)