Inside Sport - - Insider - BY JACK MCCAL­LUM, RAN­DOM HOUSE, – Jeff Cen­ten­era


Jerry West is a bas­ket­ball icon

– lit­er­ally, as his sil­hou­ette is in­cor­po­rated into the NBA logo. One of the best play­ers of his era in the 1960s and

’70s, he be­came the fore­most frontof­fice builder of teams in the next phase of his hoops life.

West is the tether be­tween two of the league’s most dom­i­nant teams, his ’72 Lak­ers and the present-day

War­riors. Both were mould-break­ers;

Golden State’s space-bend­ing, long-bomb­ing style is well-un­der­stood for how it has changed bas­ket­ball, while their fore­bears in Los An­ge­les were cred­ited with in­tro­duc­ing the game-day shootaround, some­thing ev­ery team does now. But this is also a tale of how the NBA has changed over 40 years, from an af­ter­thought on the Amer­i­can sport­ing land­scape to gen­uine global game.

The ma­te­rial is an ideal fit for au­thor Jack McCal­lum, the for­mer NBA beat writer for Sports Il­lus­trated and au­thor of pre­vi­ous in­dis­pens­able hoops tomes on the ’92 US Olympic Dream Team, the Steve Nash-era Phoenix Suns and Larry Bird’s late-’80s Celtics. McCal­lum is the con­sum­mate in­sider, il­lu­mi­nat­ing the in­ter­per­sonal ties that in­form so much of bas­ket­ball and the NBA, a sport and a league them­selves that are highly per­sonal. Char­ac­ters leap out of th­ese pages: Wilt Cham­ber­lain, for whom “larger-than-life” hardly cuts it, or Steph Curry, shaped by an un­likely path to su­per­star­dom. But West looms over all – the rare, great ath­lete riven by self-doubt, who stead­fastly de­fied be­com­ing a “back-in-my-day” type to stay rel­e­vant at the high­est level of bas­ket­ball for more than 50 years.

Good for: well, es­sen­tial for bas­ket­ball fans. But those in­ter­ested in sport­ing great­ness will eat it up.

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