NBA legend Jerry West pledged loyalty to the Los Angeles Lakers during his entire playing career. West was a part of the team when they shifted from Minneapolis to Los Angeles before the 1960-61 season. Upon retirement, West emerged as a successful executive and besides his role in shaping the ‘showtime’ Lakers and the three-peat triumph, the 1972 NBA champion played a major part in the success of Golden State Warriors.
West joined as an executive board member of the Warriors in 2011. Subsequently, the team picked up Klay Thompson in the NBA draft. The Warriors had an idea of trading Klay Thompson a bit too early in his career. Fortunately for the team, it never happened. Moreover, Jerry West can take a bit of the praise for keeping Klay within the team.
Jerry West thinks the Golden State Warriors did themselves a favor by keeping Klay Thompson
Hall of Famer Jerry West recently connected on 95.7 The Game’s “Damon, Ratto and Kolsky” podcast, where he spoke a bit about his former role as an executive board member as the Warriors. Naturally, a lot of people credit him for the Warriors’ recent achievements. However, West is modest enough to not take a huge bite of the pie.
There have been speculations that West indeed wanted Thompson to stay and threatened to resign if the management decided to trade him for Kevin Love. “It wasn’t me,” West said on the podcast, as per Brian Witt of NBC Sports. “Because I wasn’t making trades up there.”
“Obviously, I’m a big fan of Klay Thompson. I think there were certain people that were of a different opinion because Kevin Love was an attractive player to have because of his ability to spread the court, his rebounding, his passing — he’s a good player.”
“But to me, the perfect player — and he wasn’t as far along in his career when this trade had been talked about — the perfect player for Steph was Klay. He never seeks the spotlight. He just plays the game. And he has gotten better and better, and frankly, he’s one of the most underrated players in the league who gets not as much love as he should get.”
“… the decision was made not to trade him, and you’ve got the best basketball backcourt in the game today in those two. And also, an incredible complimentary player to Steph in his own right — as good as Steph in another way, the totality of his game. He’s getting better, too.”
The Warriors can certainly look back and rejoice over the fact that they did not hastily bring Kevin Love into the team. I’m not undermining Love in any way, but the amount of growth Klay has had over the years is fantastic.
He has evolved into a prominent player of the team alongside Steph Curry. The Golden State Warriors took a hit this season without the services of the ‘Splash Brothers.’ But they would hope to bounce back next year.
West feels the Warriors have a chance at redemption next season
Both Curry and Thompson bowing out with injuries handicapped the Warriors for a large part of the 2019-20 NBA season. Curry could only play five games and Thompson, none. Thus, Steve Kerr had to send out a call to the youngsters, asking them to step up and perform.
Though the season ended on a bitter note, their journey doesn’t end here. Jerry West feels the same way too. Here is what he said:
“So, Warriors fans have got a lot to look forward to,” West continued. “Two players who are getting in their prime. They’ve had some injuries. It should be a promising year next year for the Warriors because if they get a player in the draft that they like who can give them something different than they have, they should be back in the running for an opportunity to be one of the best teams in the West again.”
A promising lottery pick would certainly help the Warriors in their quest to return to the top of the West. However, the Lakers seem like they are good for another year or two. LeBron James appears to have settled in extremely well with the team. For the Warriors to come back strong next season, they need Klay and Steph to return with full fitness.