'The Logo' opens up about Warriors, Super Teams, more
Jerry West expects little movement from the Warriors up until trade deadline
He said he doesn't see a 'Super Team' in the league, not even the Miami Heat
West also said he doesn't think Kobe Bryant should be playing so many minutes
Jerry West is convinced Golden State will eventually turn its long-suffering franchise around, isn't convinced that there are any "Super Teams" in today's NBA and wonders why his prized pupil, Kobe Bryant, needs to log so many minutes at 33 years old. As the NBA legend and Warriors consultantreminded us again in his autobiography, "West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life," he is as candid as they come and always worth a listen. Here's what he had to say in a recent discussion with SI.com.
On the Warriors job he took in May, which reportedly included stake as a minority owner ...
"First of all, you have to consider my title -- advisor -- OK? I've been up there quite a few times, and obviously I communicate with [assistant general manager] Bob [Meyers], [general manager] Larry [Riley] and [owner] Joe [Lacob]. ... I watch all the games, watch the team, try to look for areas where I think there's maybe glaring areas of help needed and try to convey that to everyone up there.
"I think you have to be objective, to understand that there's a process to building a team that can endure for a while. And I think it's very obvious to me since I've been there that we need more assets as a team. ... You have owners up there who really want to accomplish something, and they're not going to leave a stone unturned in getting that. But every time we have an opportunity to draft, every time we have an opportunity to sign a free agent that's signable -- and signable means restricted and/or teams that may not match other players offers -- I think we have to do that to create the talent pool up there."
On whether the Warriors will be active leading up to the March 15 trade deadline ...
"I think you're probably going to see very little player movement for a while, right until the trade deadline. Because the way the season has been condensed, I think people in the front office are really at a disadvantage when you're trying to add players of caliber who can make a significant difference in your team. I think the one player that we made an offer on would've made a wonderful difference for us, and that's DeAndre Jordan. He's a rising center, he's the brand of basketball that would be beneficial to the Warriors.
"We need to have -- every year going into training camp -- seven players that you feel pretty assured that the coach is going to play on a nightly basis. That's where we need to get. Does it come through trades? Does it come through free agency? I don't really know, because I'm not involved in the day-to-day operations in terms of talking to other teams and finding out what's available, but that will be a focus going forward for Larry and Bob."
On whether the Warriors can change the also-ran perception of their organization ...
"Listen, this is a huge market. I think it's the culture of a franchise, and ownership up there is going to do what it takes. It's not going to be about the money. It's going to be about spending money wisely and acquiring players. Players will want to play [in Golden State] -- trust me, they will want to play there.
"If I were a player, I would love to play there, not only for new ownership but more importantly for the fans. My gosh, what a refreshing place to play. ... You can imagine it if you had one of those real marquee players -- and we've got some good players -- how that player would be held in the highest esteem."
On his nightly routine of analyzing games from his Los Angeles-area home ...
"Frankly, it's so much easier for me to watch it on TV, where you can really concentrate, because you have replays, and you see the whole game. Sometimes when you're there you're there as a fan. When it's quieter, it's easier for me to concentrate in terms of trying to ask the team what kind of talent we need."
On whether the job satisfies the competitive desires that went unfulfilled after he resigned as the Grizzlies general manager in 2007 ...
"It does [get the juices going] when I start calling the TV bad names with locker-room language. Thank God I'm not at the arena. Listen, I think you're either involved or you're not involved, and if you're not involved then you're not going to be engaged. I feel very engaged. I feel very good about the people [the Warriors] have on their staff. A lot of young people are up there that are going to be there for a long time and have the talent to go out and make a difference in the growth of this franchise, and that's exactly what we're all collectively trying to do."
On his recent comments that the Heat could win "numerous championships" ...
"I don't see a Super Team in this league right yet. Maybe someone will identify themselves, but I don't see a Super Team. I see some teams that are on the rise. I see some teams that are starting to show their age. But as a whole, this is the kind of season where you might get a winner that's completely surprising. You need a lot of good fortune. You need to stay healthy.
"Miami is athletic as heck, and they've got two of the probably top five players in the league on one team, and when you have that that's a pretty comforting sight to know that you're going to get 20 or 30 every night and a bunch of assists and a bunch of rebounds from two different players. On any given night, any one of those players can carry your team in a lot of different areas. But their team, they struggle, but yet there's an enormous amount of talent."
On the Lakers ...
"Every time you have a coaching change you're going to see teams that are going to have to figure out a different way to play. I look at the Lakers now, and if you look at their roster they're still very capable. They have two big guys [in Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol], and most people only have one. That's a tremendous advantage to have two of them. And then you've got a player of Kobe Bryant's caliber where, regardless of the wear and tear on his body, his skill level is so high and his competitive level [is so high], that he's going to give them a chance. I think when you look at their team, you do see holes in their team, and they need to be more athletic. Everybody talks about that."
On Kobe Bryant, whom West traded for in 1996 when he was GM of the Lakers ...
"The one thing you can't control is age. He's so good. He's not the same high-flyer. He can still do it occasionally, but he's so skilled and he's such a better player now in understanding the game. And as they say, there's no one more competitive than him. He's going to be good because of that.
"But to expect him to lead the league in scoring from now on -- even though I think he's doing it right now (through Tuesday, Bryant leads the league with 29.3 points per game). I think that that's not good for his career going forward. I think that he'd be better served [not doing it] and frankly I think it would preserve his integrity as a player in terms of health. But that's not who he is. He wants to be out there every minute of every game, and he's just so competitive that's what makes him great and he will be great until he retires."
On other teams that have impressed him ...
"Chicago, they play really well together and they've got an unbelievably great player in Derrick Rose who just keeps getting better, and plus he's one of the great teammates you have in the league. And then Oklahoma City, my goodness. If they could cut down on their turnovers, holy cow. They're pretty good. They've got three really good players, and they're all kind of wing players -- even though Kevin Durant is 6-10 or 6-11. Russell Westbrook is unbelievably competitive and still getting better, and James Harden, to me, plays an old-fashioned game. I really like him a lot as a player. I think he's really good.
"I think Minnesota is vastly improved, and more importantly they have enough talent now to give them a chance. Kevin Love is a tremendous player, and Ricky Rubio is a real leader and he has given them some stability.
"I saw Rubio when he was 15 years old playing in Spain. He was very advanced at that age, and one of the biggest questions he would have was his inability to shoot the ball at this point in time. He just wasn't a shooter, but he was a ball-hawk who had a great way of finding people on the court, and obviously he's playing terrific for them. Just getting a leader back there that can make other players better -- that's the key to almost all these teams."
On his book and whether he's glad he decided to bare his soul so publicly ...
"At times I've been very happy about it. I've gotten some wonderful comments from people, a lot of incredibly nice letters from people talking about some of the challenges they've faced in their lives. Some of them were very similar to me, but I just think that after a while athletes -- and I think particularly today -- there's more to that person than what people see in a uniform. There's more than all the publicity that someone gets. Behind that facade sometimes I think there's a real person there, and I think it's important that people understand that a lot of people have a way to get to a point in time and have success and there's obstacles in everyone's way. The ones who are the most tough-minded, the ones who are the most committed, the harder-working ones -- they're the ones who I think have a story to tell beyond the game of basketball and I just happened to live a life that was less than desirable, but I have lived my dreams. I am happy I wrote it. Some of the things in there might shock some people, but it is a true book -- it's not a falsehood."
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