For L.A. hoops, it’s the best and worst of times

West’s move to the Clip­pers is an­other dag­ger for Lak­ers

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - BILL PLASCHKE

This is ex­actly what the Clip­pers needed.

This is ex­actly what the Lak­ers dreaded.

This is a move filled with Clip­pers’ cred­i­bil­ity and hope.

This is move full of Lak­ers’ em­bar­rass­ment and dread.

In the 34 years these two teams have shared a city, never be­fore have they shared a trans­ac­tion that has felt so ut­terly trans­for­ma­tional.

Jerry West, ar­guably the most im­por­tant Laker in fran­chise his­tory, is go­ing to work for the Clip­pers.

Say it loud. It sounds crazy. Tell it to your friends. They won’t be­lieve it. But league of­fi­cials con­firmed Wed­nes­day that West is fi­nal­iz­ing a deal to make it ab­so­lutely true.

The man who has seven Lak­ers cham­pi­onship rings, in­clud­ing one as a player, is walk­ing down the Sta­ples Cen­ter hall­way to join a team that has lan­guished in the shadow of those rings.

The man who built two Lak­ers ti­tle dy­nas­ties has agreed to work as an ad­vi­sor to the team that those dy­nas­ties used to dom­i­nate.

Lak­ers fans used to laugh at the Clip­pers. Many of those laughs are now surely turn­ing to cries of frus­ta­tion at the or­ga­ni­za­tion that let him get away.

West, 79, will be leav­ing his job as an ex­ec­u­tive board mem­ber of the NBA cham­pion Golden State War­riors and join­ing the Clip­pers in a sim­i­lar po­si­tion as soon as next week.

But the real story is, he wanted to serve a sim­i­lar role with the Lak­ers, yet they never asked him. He wanted to leave the War­riors and end his ca­reer with his eter­nal home team,

but he says he was told there was no room.

“Some­times I thought in my life that maybe that might be some­thing that I can re­visit, or they would want me to re­visit, but that didn’t hap­pen,” West said re­cently when asked about his Lak­ers ten­ure on “The Dan Pa­trick Show.” “It kind of sent me a mes­sage that they wanted to go else­where, which was fine.”

When Jeanie Buss en­gi­neered the Lak­ers’ frontof­fice shakeup in Fe­bru­ary, oust­ing her brother Jim and Mitch Kupchak, she could have re­placed them with a com­bi­na­tion of the ven­er­a­ble West and a smart young gen­eral man­ager.

In­stead, she chose Magic John­son and Kobe Bryant’s for­mer agent Rob Pelinka.

Couldn’t West have worked with his friend John­son? Ap­par­ently the Lak­ers wanted John­son to have the stage to him­self. Wouldn’t West have been a nice com­ple­ment to the front-of­fice novice Pelinka? Ap­par­ently West and Pelinka were never the clos­est of pals.

In the first ma­jor de­ci­sion of her own­er­ship, Buss de­cided to go with John­son’s star power and Pelinka’s Kobe con­nec­tion.

Now she can only hope that John­son and Pelinka can turn the Lak­ers into win­ners be­fore that de­ci­sion haunts her for­ever. And be­lieve it, if the Lak­ers have a good draft and show real signs of rebirth and even­tu­ally be­come con­tenders again, many Lak­ers fans will even­tu­ally ig­nore West’s pres­ence across town.

But not right now. Dur­ing this time when it seems the Lak­ers would seem­ingly need West’s wis­dom the most, he’s a Clip­per, and that cut runs deep.

Yes, West hasn’t been with the Lak­ers in 17 years. But he still has that magic Lak­ers touch. He’s still Jerry West.

Since he joined the War­riors in 2011, he has helped them win two cham­pi­onships by do­ing things like cham­pi­oning the ca­reer of Klay Thomp­son, and work­ing the phones to help lure free-agent Kevin Du­rant.

Now, in­stead of do­ing the same things with the Lak­ers, he will be in charge of hurt­ing the Lak­ers, re­shap­ing a Clip­pers team that has al­ready won 18 of its last 20 games against the Lak­ers and could be one bit of West magic from fi­nally reach­ing the West­ern Con­fer­ence fi­nals.

West will help the Clip­pers and over­worked per­son­nel boss and coach Doc Rivers de­cide how to deal with po­ten­tial free agents Chris Paul and Blake Grif­fin. He will deal with the un­cer­tain future of free agent J.J. Redick. He will help de­cide how to turn these un­der­achiev­ing stars into the kind of Lak­ers teams he once built. And he could do so with son Ryan, the Lak­ers’ di­rec­tor of player per­son­nel, who will prob­a­bly be join­ing him.

West will try to do for the Clip­pers what he once did so well for the Lak­ers. He was once hon­ored with the ul­ti­mate com­pli­ment from their ul­ti­mate leader.

“Ob­vi­ously, Jerry West is ir­re­place­able,” said owner Jerry Buss when West left the team in 2000. “What he’s meant to the Lak­ers fran­chise over the past 40 years is im­mea­sur­able.”

Through­out the Los An­ge­les bas­ket­ball land­scape to­day, it’s as im­mea­sur­able as one fan’s joy, and an­other fan’s pain.

bill.plaschke@la­times.com

Aric Crabb Oakland Tri­bune

JERRY WEST, right, with Golden State gen­eral man­ager Bob My­ers in 2012, was an ex­ec­u­tive board mem­ber and con­sul­tant for the War­riors for the last six sea­sons, dur­ing which time the team won two NBA ti­tles and three West­ern Con­fer­ence cham­pi­onships.

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