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NBA Hall of Famer Julius Erving remembers Jerry West: ‘I lost one of my heroes’

Jerry West, the man whose silhouette lives within the NBA logo, died Wednesday at 86 years old, and the sports world is in mourning. 

Many have poured their hearts out publicly after hearing the news of West’s death, including NBA Hall of Famer Julius Erving. 

“May my all time first team shooting guard rest in peace knowing he paved the way for defining greatness on the hardwood, excellence in the front office and living life his way. Jerry is one of one and claims the right to be the logo forever. My condolences to his family,” Erving wrote in a post on X. 

Fox News Digital talked with Erving on Wednesday to learn more about his relationship with West, and one could hear the emotion behind the words when he let them out.

“I’ve had a lot of experiences with Jerry West,” said Erving, who is affectionately known as “Dr. J.” “Been able to play golf with him. Seen him shoot 34 on the back side of his course in Los Angeles where he was a member. So, he was not only a rare talent in his profession, he was just a talented individual, smart individual. Came from humble beginnings like so many people who are able to rise to the top. He’s clearly the leading shooting guard on the all-time greatest team in basketball history, winning 33 games in a row on the [Los Angeles] Lakers in the year they had Wilt [Chamberlain], him and [Elgin] Baylor.

“Those guys were my heroes, so I lost one of my heroes.”


Erving added that he finds solace knowing West had a fulfilling life, but he and the late Boston Celtics great Bill Russell, who died in 2022, are “just guys who can never be replaced by anyone else.”

“That’s why Jerry’s the NBA logo,” Erving said. “He’s the guy you see all the time when you see the NBA logo. My heart goes out to him and our condolences go out to his family and loved ones and friends. It’s a tremendous loss not only to basketball, but just a loss, period, for everyone.”

When Erving began playing professionally, he was in the ABA for the 1971-72 season and would spend five years there before the merger in 1976. At that point, West was already retired following the 1973-74 campaign. 

Jerry West with the Warriors

However, the fellow Hall of Famers got to know each other over the years, and Erving especially remembers the recent times on the golf course.

“I think he’s a very direct guy. Didn’t throw any punches. Said what was on his mind,” Erving recalled when asked what West, the person, was like to be around. “Even when we got out to play golf, he always insisted on being the first group out because he played fast. So, if somebody was ahead of him who played slow or didn’t have a pretty good game, he would be upset about it. We had our little groups.

“His memory lives on forever.”

West played his entire career with the Lakers, where he was a 14-time All-Star and an NBA champion with them in 1972. He also won the NBA Finals MVP despite not winning the title in 1969.

West would also be named the league’s scoring champion during the 1969-70 season, where he averaged 31.2 points per game. He was a five-time All-Defensive team honoree and led the league in assists during the 1971-72 season.

Donald Trump presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Jerry West

West’s legend was furthered post-career as he became an executive for the Lakers after first starting in the scouting department in 1979. He would move up to general manager during the 1982-83 season and is known to have built the Showtime Lakers era, which included Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabaar and James Worthy. 

There was also the draft day trade with the Charlotte Hornets that brought about not just another Lakers great but an all-time NBA legend in Kobe Bryant to Los Angeles in 1996. That year, West also orchestrated a trade with the Orlando Magic for Shaquille O’Neal. That Lakers squad went on to win three titles together. 

West would move on to the Memphis Grizzlies from 2002-07, where Pau Gasol was the big-ticket find, though he would win his NBA title with the Lakers he previously built. 

Then came the Golden State Warriors, where West played a large role in building that dynasty in the 2010s, led by Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and eventually Kevin Durant. 

After a stint with the Los Angeles Clippers, then-President Trump honored West with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2019. 

Jerry West and Julius Erving on red carpet

West was truly a legend of the game and someone who impacted lives both on and off the court. So, like Erving and many others, honoring West is easy considering the profound impact he had on everyone who knew him.

Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report.

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