By JILL PAINTER LOPEZ, Associated Press
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Hall of Famer Jerry West, fresh off helping the Golden State Warriors win another NBA championship, is now officially a consultant with the Los Angeles Clippers.
West was introduced at a news conference Monday with Doc Rivers, the Clippers’ coach and president of basketball operations, and Executive Vice President Lawrence Frank. He had been an executive board member with the Warriors and is expected to have a similar role with LA.
The former Lakers great and front office executive credited Rivers, Frank and owner Steve Ballmer with convincing him the other team in LA was the right fit.
“Here I am on the last adventure of my life, and I like to call it an adventure,” West said. “I believe in ownership a lot. After I talked to Steve and Doc and what’s-your-name, Frank Lawrence, I was even more convinced. I’ve known these guys and respected them.
“I like people flying under the radar. I don’t like gigantic egos. … I’ve had the privilege of watching their games. I watch every game no matter who is playing. For them to want me to come here and maybe think I can help, I’m really flattered.”
The 79-year-old West is coming in just ahead of the draft and the free agency period, when the Clippers will be focused on retaining key players, including Chris Paul.
West didn’t specifically address what he would advise the team to do with Paul and Blake Griffin.
“I haven’t talked much about that,” West said. “I think they know what they need to do. I’m going to spend the rest of this week and next week trying to find where they’re going to go. I think very definitely, they want to try to protect their assets.”
Rivers had floated the idea of West joining the organization before, so it wasn’t as jarring to West as it might have been for Lakers fans.
“I wanted to bring him in, more than this year without going much further than that,” Rivers said. “Without going much further than that, I kept bringing it up. Steve got involved and (part owner) Dennis (Wong). I left somewhere that was safe, too.”
So instead of taking a vacation to celebrate another NBA championship, West will get to work with the Clippers.
“I’ll miss Jerry,” Warriors general manager Bob Myers said Monday. “… I think for him it’s a great new challenge, and it’s in Los Angeles. I’ve always said to him and will always say whatever he’s happy doing makes me happy, whatever that might be. But his presence, his personality, his competitiveness, his passion for those that know him or have been around him, it’s unique.”
West called leaving Golden State one of the saddest days of his life. But the Clippers found a need for his help, and he found a new challenge. The Clippers have yet to win an NBA championship or advance to the Western Conference Finals.
“They’ve had the best team in town for seven straight years, but that hasn’t been good enough,” West said. “They want to get to a different level.”
AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley in San Francisco contributed to this report.
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