Jerry West Reveals Why He’s Leaving Warriors For Clippers
Jerry West announced on Wednesday that he is abandoning his post as an executive with the Golden State Warriors to join their in-state rival Los Angeles Clippers, and on Thursday, he explained the reason behind his move.
Jerry West Explains Move to Clippers
According to the Los Angeles Times, the 79-year-old West said it was the fact that he likes the members of the Clippers’ executive team that drew him to the team.
West — who has served as an adviser and executive board member for the Warriors since 2011 — says the appeal of working alongside Clippers owners Steve Ballmer and Dennis Wong, as well as head coach Doc Rivers, is what drew him back to Los Angeles.
West previously served as coach of the Lakers from 1976-79.
Ballmer and Wong both played a key role in bringing West to their team, Wong especially.
Wong, who is part-owner of the Clippers, also previously held an ownership stake with the Warriors and saw how much West accomplished in his six years with Golden State.
Following Wong’s perseverance, West finally agreed and will now work as a consultant/adviser for the Clippers. His role will be similar to the one he had played with the Warriors up until now. No official contract has yet been signed, however.
“For me, life is about passion. Life is about being around people you want to be around,” West said. “In my meeting with Steve and Dennis Wong, they were great.
“I think [Ballmer] is going to be one of the great owners that this league has. For a man who has had enormous success, you would never know if you’re around him, unless you knew. He’s just down to earth.”
West met with Ballmer, Wong and Rivers — who is also the Clippers’ president of basketball operations — on May 30 at the team’s practice venue in Playa Vista.
The Hall of Famer expressed admiration for the trio’s vision for the organization. West praised not only Rivers but the rest of the franchise’s front office, particularly executive vice president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank.
“The connection I made with the Clippers, immediately I felt great after that meeting,” West said. “From Doc and Lawrence and the rest of the basketball people, I just felt great.”
The Clippers have reached the playoffs six straight years but have never advanced beyond the second round.
Veterans Chris Paul and Blake Griffin could opt out of their contracts soon and become unrestricted free agents, while J.J. Reddick is an unrestricted free agent who may become too expensive to retain.
The Clippers don’t have any picks in the 2017 NBA Draft — which will take place June 22 — although they may be interested in acquiring a second-round pick.
West emphasized how much of an honor it was for the franchise to hire him.
“I want to see the Clippers get to where the owner and the people who work there internally want to go,” West said. “They have some really lofty goals over there, really lofty goals, and they thought I can help. I’m thrilled that I was wanted. I’m thrilled that they thought I could help and I’m hopeful that I can.”
Some Lakers fans were hoping the team would hire West as a top executive, but the organization ultimately chose Magic Johnson as their president of basketball operations and Rob Pelinka as their general manager.
West insisted that his move to the Clippers was not intended as a way to compete with the Lakers, whom he led to five NBA championships in the 1980s and also helped them win three straight titles from 2000 to 2002.
“People will ask questions about the Lakers,” West said. “I don’t really have anything to say about the Lakers. I don’t. I’m not going to say anything derogatory about the Lakers. This is not about me being in competition with the Lakers.
“It’s about me wanting to try to see if I can help make a difference with the people the Clippers have in place. I’m not going to be the out-front person.”
West added, however, that he will miss the Warriors enormously after seeing them win two of the last three NBA Championships.
“I will really miss that Warriors organization. I really will,” West said. “But honestly, there was nothing left for me to do. When I left there Monday night after they won the championship, it was probably the worst feeling I ever had in my life as a basketball person. I knew I wasn’t going to be part of that anymore.”
JOLIET, IL – SEPTEMBER 18: (L-R) NBA Hall Of Famer and race grand marshal Jerry West speaks to the media after practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series MyAFibRisk.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 18, 2015 in Joliet, Illinois. As part of AFib Awareness Month this group is encouraging people with AFib to visit MyAFibRisk.com and calculate your stroke risk. With each risk calculated Janssen will make a donation to the non-profit organization Mended Hearts. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)