A sellout Coliseum crowd watched on Nov. 26 as West Virginia University officials retired the No. 44 jersey of one of the most famous athletes to ever wear the Gold and BlueJerry West.
West will return to the Coliseum Sunday, May 14, to another capacity crowd as the guest speaker at the University’s 137 th Commencement. He will also receive an honorary doctorate from his alma mater.
The ceremony is set for 1:30 p.m., with approximately 4,000 students expected to graduate.
Jerry West is a true leader,said WVU President David C. Hardesty Jr.He led his team to the very pinnacle of sport as a player, and he has led his franchises to success with his WVU education. He will connect what many consider this golden age of Mountaineer athletics with his own era of superior performance. He is the ideal speaker to establish the excellence of the Mountaineer teams, and the excellence of a Mountaineer education, over the years.
Mr. Clutchas he is fondly referred to and subsequently became the title of his autobiographyis a native of Chelyan , W.Va. , and attended East Bank High School.
A 1960 physical education graduate, West led the Mountaineers to three of the school’s greatest seasons. With a three-year mark of 61-12 while he was a regular, WVU earned three straight NCAA berths and came within two points of winning the national championship in 1959.
The two-time All-American also set 17 school records and ended his college career with a 24.8 scoring average.
He was the Lakers’first pick in the 1960 college draft, but before joining the NBA , served as co-captain of the gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic basketball team in Rome in 1960. He also was a member of the victorious U.S. squad in the 1958 Pan American Games.
During his 14-year professional careerall with the Lakershe scored 25,192 points, the third player to reach the 25,000 mark, and still the sixth highest total in NBA history. His 29.1 scoring average in the playoffs is still among the highest in NBA history and he remains the Lakers’all-time scoring leader.
West was selected to the All-NBA first team 10 times and the All-Defensive first team four times. He was selected to play in the All-Star Game for 13 consecutive seasons and was MVP of the 1972 classic at The Forum, and NBA Playoff MVP in 1969.
He was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1979 and was named to the NBA ’s 35th Anniversary Team in 1980.
He is so well respected that the NBA chose his silhouette to feature on its logo.
After he retired as a player, West returned to the Lakers for the 1976-77 season as head coach. He posted a 145-101 record and his club reached the playoffs in each of his three seasons at the helm.
Following the 1978-79 campaign, he served the Lakers for three years as special consultant, with the primary responsibility of scouting college players.
In 1982, he was elevated to the club’s general manager, where he oversaw the day-to-day operations of the club and all player personnel decisions. During his time as GM, the Lakers won three NBA titles while averaging better than 60 wins per season.
Today, West serves as president of basketball operations for the Memphis Grizzlies. After his first season with the club in 2002-2003, he was honored with the NBA ’s Executive of the Year Award.
His alma mater has also honored him with induction into the Academy of Distinguished Alumni , the School of Physical Education Hall of Fame and the Athletic Department Hall of Fame.
With the retiring of his jersey at the WVU -LSU game Nov. 26, 2005, West’s name and number are now displayed on the wall of the Coliseum’s upper deck.
The media lounge is also named in his honor.
No tickets are necessary for graduation, and seating is open. To arrange for disability-related accommodations please call the WVU Office of Disability Services at 304-293-6700. Guests are advised to arrive early; doors open at 12:30 p.m.
For a detailed commencement schedule, go tohttp://www.wvu.edu/commencement/index.htm