“Going beyond the facade of the multifaceted NBA legend, Lazenby, a professor of journalism at Virginia Tech (The Show: The Inside Story of the Spectacular Los Angeles Lakers), examines West, who played for the Los Angeles Lakers from 1960 to 1974. From the frail kid from West Virginia coal country through his rebellious youthful hoopster to the crowning of a pro sports icon, this entertaining biography explicates how West, a shy, introverted perfectionist, emerged as a fabled college star with the West Virginia Mountaineers, using his patented one-hand jumper, pushing himself with endless drills to change the fate of the pro ball leagues. Lazenby accurately captures the inner man, his quirks, his rituals, his competitiveness when West, “Mr. Clutch,” faces off with Bill Russell’s Celtics and Wilt Chamberlain’s 76-ers. Even when the topic is life after active duty in pro ball, this book continues as a great example of old school sports bio without tabloid muck, satisfying all fans.” —Publishers Weekly
“Jerry West is one of the best five or six basketball players who ever lived. However, his career paralleled the greatest winner in the history of team sports, Bill Russell. West’s Los Angeles Lakers lost to Russell’s Boston Celtics six times in the NBA finals, lending a Sisyphean context to West’s playing career. It was only after Russell retired that West was able to win his single championship as a player. Later, as the Lakers’ general manager, he was able to build seven championship teams, but as related by Lazenby, longtime NBA writer and author of six previous basketball books, readers will conclude that West’s administrative championships did not compensate for the losses as a player. Lazenby reaches back into West’s hardscrabble West Virginia youth to provide a background for the hypercompetitive athlete to come. He incorporates contemporary interviews with West—and teammates, coaches, and rivals—as well those done through the years into a portrait that will mesmerize basketball fans who remember the man who became the model for the NBA’s ubiquitous logo. A thoughtful, serious biography of an athlete both blessed and cursed by talent and a competitive spirit.”—Booklist, Starred Review
“A superior account of one of American sports’ most compelling, complicated figures…by turns, smart, beautifully reported, well-written and psychologically shrewd….Where this book breaks fascinating new ground is in its exploration of West’s tormented perfectionism.”—Los Angeles Times
From the Hardcover edition.