Confessions Of A Hall Of Famer

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The truth can be painful to hear, even if you have to wait a while to hear it spoken aloud.

And especially if it’s coming from the mouth of the man charged with the immense responsibility of making (or breaking) your team.

It’s not often you hear a general manager in the NBA, or any sport for that matter, speak candidly about what he could have done better.

Kudos to NBA icon, logo and former Lakers and Grizzlies boss Jerry West for giving up the goods to Ron Tillery of the Commercial Appeal the way he did when discussing his tenure in Memphis:

Q: What move have you second-guessed the most?

A: My biggest disappointments came when we were in position in the lottery to get a franchise player and we never got one. I think the lottery is flawed. If we would have gotten a branded player, this franchise would have been much further along and they still would have Pau Gasol there. It’s so much easier to build when you have two really good players. I think about the time when it came down to us for one of the first two picks. There was LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony and we didn’t get any of them. The other time (in 2007) when we could have gotten a good player, Al Horford would have been great next to Gasol. And let me tell you, Mike Conley is going to be OK. He’s going to be in the NBA for 12-14 years. But that’s the one thing we missed: somebody who played the game at a high level and became a branded player. Those are people that brand your team and help franchises win.

Q: But is there anything you would have done differently?

A: Oh gosh, yes. The year we drafted Drew Gooden. He has been in the league a long time. But we could have had Amar’e Stoudemire. He would have added some cache and star power to this team. It’s not that Drew is a bad player but Stoudemire is a star. We didn’t look at him the way we should have. And you know, everyone thinks the Grizzlies have done a terrible job drafting and they haven’t. The Griz are ranked ninth in drafting in terms of their history. But I’ll always take the blame for players who didn’t turn out the way we would have liked. Overall, fans can be very critical and it’s easy to be critical. But they’re not as critical as those of us who work in these positions.

West is a Hall of Famer with impeccable credentials as a player and executive. So he could have easily glanced over whatever transgressions occurred on his watch with the Hang Time Grizzlies.

But he didn’t.

He admitted his mistakes, try getting some of the decision makers in any venture to admit specific mistakes and watch them squirm like a politician on the hot seat.

If only some of his general manager brethren, past and present, were brave enough to admit mistakes!

37 Comments

  1. Hillbilly Back says:

    I would have loved to see Jerry West replace David $tern. But he isn’t an attorney and now it’s too late. What a difference a straight shooter would make though…

  2. Hunt-4-6! says:

    @ – dillon d
    yo dillon, this is proffessional basketball, it’s a sport and a business, not a spy movie.Your conspiracy theory regarding the NBA is idiotic and just palin stupid. You need to stop watching Sci-Fi moies and start watching a lot more NBA basketball.

  3. dillon d says:

    Chris: This article explains all of why i am angered by this trade…. i understand where your coming from, but with celtics trading for KG and rayray….. and the finals in 07 having terrible ratings…. I can see why west could have had a hand in this… and chris wallace didint need to do a salary dump of that magnitude… bulls had a better offer than lakers had…

    The one-sided nature of the trade inspired a lot of people to believe that retired Memphis GM, Jerry West, a Lakers’ legend, played a part in facilitating the deal. West was instrumental recruiting Wallace as his replacement in Memphis and still holds a close relationship with Heisley. His history in Los Angeles, especially his bond with Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak and star Kobe Bryant, made even the fair-minded cynical about the scenario.

    Still, it hasn’t stopped a rampant anger around the league that this wasn’t so much of a trade, as much as it was the word that Bryant himself used: a “donation.” Privately, the Lakers were thrilled that they were able to keep negotiations with the Grizzlies quiet because Los Angeles officials were blown away that they could get Gasol for so little.

    One source with knowledge of the process said the Bulls had made the most credible offer. For Gasol and Memphis’ Hakim Warrick, the Bulls were willing to part with Andres Nocioni, Tyrus Thomas, Joakim Noah, Thabo Sefolosha, possibly Adrian Griffin and draft picks.

    Heisley didn’t offer up those names, but insisted, “Chicago wouldn’t offer us any of their good, core players,” he said. “Our people told me that we weren’t able to get equal trade value for Gasol and that we needed to do a deal that would give us cap space and draft picks. It was no secret in the league that we were considering offers for him, but the Lakers were the one team that stepped up.”

    Heisley has been losing money in Memphis, a small market where the franchise has come to flounder. He tried to sell the team, but no one has reached his asking price. Around the league there are those who believe that Wallace was forced to turn the Gasol trade into a salary dump, and there are league officials, including a close friend, who believe, “There is no way that Chris ever would’ve made that trade on his own.”

    “I have no buyer’s remorse,” Heisley said. “Listen, I can’t tell you how many people would tell me, wherever I went in Memphis, ‘Get rid of Gasol. …Trade Gasol.’ And then some of the same people are booing us because we traded him. But I don’t mind that. I’m a big boy. I can take it.”

    He could live with watching Gasol playing an immense part in bringing the Lakers to the Finals, but he just wonders: When do we get our just reward for gutting this roster, for relentless futility? He keeps watching teams with better records get the luck of the bouncing balls in the draft lottery and the Grizzlies never get that transcendent player to save the franchise’s fortunes. Memphis missed on LeBron James and just one year ago, with the worst record in the sport, they still didn’t get a top two pick to take Greg Oden or Kevin Durant.

    “We’ve been in the lottery more than anyone in the NBA, and we’ve definitely had the worst record twice as much as anyone else,” Heisley said. “This is sure a fantastic system we have – isn’t it? – where we’ve never gotten the No. 1 pick. Our ticket sales just stopped last year when we didn’t get one of the top picks. What’s the sense in of all this?”

    The Grizzlies have been waiting for something, for someone to save them – maybe the bouncing the ball, maybe dumb luck – but they’ve done little to help themselves. The owner of the Memphis Grizzlies says, yes, come to him with criticism for the Gasol trade because he had the power to stop it. Now, he’s watched the Lakers rush to the NBA Finals, the immense impact Gasol has had with Bryant, and he’s asking the same question the rest of the league hasn’t stopped grumbling for months.

    Did the Grizzlies get the best value possible for Pau Gasol?

    “I don’t know if I got the most value,” he said.

    Even so, you get the idea that, yes, the man most responsible for the Lakers’ championship run does know now.

    Between February and now, that truth hasn’t changed. The answer’s still the same.

    No way.

    Not even close. This article explains all of why i am angered by this trade.

  4. lil_barac says:

    fck jerry west. He gets paid by the griz to make the lakers better. fcking hypocrite. if u make him orlando’s gm, he’ll trade howard 4 luke walton right now. fcking laker fag

  5. Rome says:

    The NBA is rigged i have know this since the kings lost to the Lakers a while ago it’s just to obvious The NBA got boring and im pretty sure waz making alot less money when the spurs kept winning rings nothing exciting really happend after shaq and wade won the championship The CAVS VS SPURS finals was the worst NBA finals i’ve ever seen and all of a sudden the Kobe and Pierce are both demanding to be trade from there teams the celtics get a poor draft rank and they End up with Ray Allen and KG and a while later Pau comes to the Lakers fopr the worst 1st pick in NBA history and the Lakers VS Celtics rivalry is back again Celtics win one ring get old and the Lakers are on there way to another 3 peat? and how the hell does Lebron Wade and Bosh end up in Miami at least we can say the NBA will be getting alot more money this season Lakers vs Celtics finals again for 2011 then the Miami take over win begin mark my words

  6. dillon d says:

    Jerry west is obviously has been in cahoots with jerry bus ever since buss fired him in 2002. He was architect for the lakers 3 peat then buss, b/c he was cutting costs all over his franchise, decided to fired west. And coincidentally…. 5 years later when buss was on the brink of losing kobe bryant because kobe was furious during the summer of ’07 and in the beginning of the ’07-’08 season, Kobe is on tape demanding numerous times to be traded unless a shaq-like players was brought in to anchor the team(he publicly criticized & hated bynum at this point in his career)…. and POOF here is pau on the lkaers for a treemdnously loopsided trade (unproven marc gasol, draft bust K. browne, Jarvis C. [who never panned-out] & a draft pick, for GASOL). Jerry gave away the grizzlies future for basically nothing but garbage and an unproven lil bo of pau. Jerry is a laker forever, and, bluntly, buss’s lil b!tch, pardon my french, but he is buss’s tool, and buss used up west, threw him away, then got him to give up Memphis’s only franchise player (pau) to the same conference team!!! YOU never trade franchise players with in your own conference, b/c of exactly what happened with the lakers… Memphis was on brink of being a consistent playoff contender(made postseason in 05&06)… and then went to being a non-playoff team and making the lakers go to go the finals 3 years in a row…. West, you screwed over a whole franchise from (2007-2012), this is the amount of time kobe&pau will be on the best team in the west, just to keep in jerry buyss’s good graces, and to save the lakers franchise form crumbling and losing kobe…. man the NBA collusion and ref rigging by stern is getting to the point where it sometimes feels like WWE Pro Wrestling….

    • dillon d says:

      also jerry west did a fine job drafting players… but he didn’t initiate nearly any trades his whole time in Memphis… and the one big trade he pulls off… is to give away a franchise player…. not to get a franchise player (marc gaosl WILL never be franchise player, good role playing center though)…. Just sad to me that only gregg popovich was only person with enough balls to publicly say something about the trade…. stern you have the whole NBA tied around your finger…. i cant wait till stern is not the commish anymore. West wass a great GM….. FOR THE LAKERS, even when he was in Memphis, still secretly the lakers GM… buss owes west alot more than he got form him.

      • dillon d says:

        West cant blame the lottery, for being so humble and loyal to the lakers franchise and buss that he traded away pau…. west was never forced to trade pau, lottery is a gamble, but still have to make a smart draft pick, look how bad detriot messed up #2 pick in ’03,….west is just trying to make an excuse for his worst regret… giving away pau…

    • dillon d says:

      AND I KNOW WEST WASNT GM WHEN THEY TRADED AWAY GASOL… but he set up the franchise to have no other option then to trade him away… and gave all the info lakers needed to allow lakers to give up the least amount of trade assests to aquire PAU…. WEST was the architect in this trade… just he he was the architect in the 3 peat in the early 2000’s….

      • Chris says:

        Jerry West was not fired by the Lakers in 2002, he retired from the Lakers in 2000. Plus he wasn’t even working for the Grizzlies when the Gasol trade was made, he retired earlier that year. Mike Heisley and Chris Wallace made that trade in a salary dump. Where do you get your facts from? Obviously not a real basketball fan.

    • Chris says:

      Lol lol inside information on Pau? Pau Gasol was already an all star for the Grizzlies before the trade was made plus he lead the Grizzlies to 3 playoff appearances. He was already an established star. The fans in Memphis never liked Pau as a player, he wasn’t popular there. Jerry West had nothing to do with this trade.
      The Grizzlies owner Mike Heisley even said this summer he traded Pau to a contender because he wanted to see him win a championship. He takes full credit for the trade.

  7. mishing says:

    i dont like this article. there is no error in his ways and if there was is no more than any one else who would have been in his position.

    • BIG DUNN says:

      I AGREE IN HIND SIGHT ANYBODY CAN DRAFT…..THE PICKS HE MADE ARE WHAT A MAJORITY OF PEOPLE WOULD OF MADE THEN…….

      • Rapport says:

        Yes, but I believe a person with drafting power should be able to choose more wisely than these “majority of people” you speak of.

  8. SMACK JOHNSON says:

    Can I get a scouting job?? Drew Gooden was clearly an underachiever at Kansas. Man amongst boys scenario. Left after what was it…his sophmore year? The boy couldn’t wait to get to the NBA and get paid. He’s strictly there for size…nothing more.
    But, versus a high school athletic prospect like Amar’e…I could understand oversight. After Kobe, there was ALOT of BUSTS trying to make the jump from prep to pro. So, I think they were trying to stop that trend…and it’s not like Amar’e had an ex-Laker father like Jelly Bean Bryant getting him some open run looks either, you feel me?

  9. DA REAL CUBA OF BOSTON says:

    THEY SHOULD HAVE gotten P.GASOL and then he and his bro would be playing together , and then in the lastest draft they screwed up they should of taken CURRY, that would give them the GASOL’S, GAY and CURRY , it would of taken some years of just building but they would be in good shape with a decent P.G , shooting guard . and post present

    • Lou says:

      I’m confused, didn’t M Gasol go from the Lakers to Memphis in the deal for P Gasol? How is it that the brothers could have been playing together in Memphis?

    • jadm14 says:

      Pau Gasol was traded to the Lakers for Marc Gasol so the brothers wouldnt be playing together idiot..lol

  10. crazylove says:

    Luke what he means by that was that in 97 they traded a future 1st round pick to the pistons for Otis Thorpe which turned out to be an 03 1st round pick and we all know who was in that draft class after James was picked 1st and so Otis played like half the season be4 being traded to u kinda get the point hes trying to make

  11. Adonte says:

    they had the number 2 pick and drafted darko mil.

  12. Foye says:

    @Luke: Memphis traded away a 1st rounder in a 1997 trade which turned out to be the 2003 #2 pick. Detroit screwed it by picking Milicic, though.

  13. mydh says:

    This is not surprising for Jerry West. He has always been a class act, which includes being humble.

  14. Miner33 says:

    WOW! this guy have guts to admit that kind of stuff!…

  15. Luke says:

    I’m really confused by all of this. Jerry West says he could have gotten LeBron or Melo? Cleveland had the first pick the year that LeBron was even eligible for the draft. Did Memphis trade away draft picks? It’s not like he passed up anyone in 2003. If anything Detroit threw away a draft pick (even though they didn’t need it that year). Memphis wasn’t in the top four picks to get Bron, Melo, Wade, or Bosh. I could use an explanation of what exactly Jerry West regrets.

    • Ck says:

      You misunderstood the post. He is referring to the flaw in the lottery system that plays the percentages. I believe he referred to missing out on the franchise players because Memphis had a much worse record than some of the other teams but lost out on the draft meaning that they should’ve got a higher drafting position than what they actually received.

  16. Daniel Opstad says:

    “If only some of his general manager brethren, past and present, were brave enough to admit mistakes!”

    Sure that would be awesome, but then you also have to remove the chance of the negative side taking over. So yeah it would be great if they changed, but then others would have to aswell.

  17. gruden says:

    yeah and that hasheem thabeet draft was bad as well…they could have gotten Evans, Harden, Curry, Jennings or my favourite T. Will….i think all of them would be better….but if they wanted a big guy….Blair, Gibson or even Hansbrough would have been a better choice….but they like many others thought Hashemm would be the next great big….but he is not….maybe one day he will be at least a solid 10points 10 bords 2 blocks guy….

  18. Sonic says:

    and what about Thabeet?? second pick …

  19. mburrhed says:

    Amare only became a star because of where he was drafted. He needed Nash just like Jefferson needed Kidd. He’s good but he’s not someone to give a mourning speech about missing out on him. And yeah Gasol is amazing now, but who’s to say he’d be the game changer there like he is for L.A.? Memphis should have a decent season. No regrets.

    P.S. Look at my Utah Jazz go! 7-0 preseason so far! 2 wins over the Champions themselves to boot! To be fair there are certain factors messing with L.A.’s chemistry and lineup. But still, the Jazz have like 40% new faces and are meshing alright.

    mburrhed

    • KINGKOBE says:

      7-0 preaseason record, woooooohoooooooo!!!!!!!!

    • jordan223 says:

      Jazz beat the Lakers twice….ha-ha-ha.. it’s a pre-season game…

    • BIG DUNN says:

      AMARE WAS A PLAYER WHEN MARBURY WAS HIS POINT GUARD. PEOPLE GIVE NASH ALL THE CREDIT FOR HELPING AMARE AND FORGET NASH WASN’T WHO HE BACAME WITHOUT AMARE AND WON’T BE THIS YEAR AGAIN SINCE AMARE LEFT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Brydon says:

        To “BIG DUNN”,

        First of all, WHY ARE WE YELLING!?

        Second, Nash can do his magic with an offense regardless of who’s in it. What about the season during which
        Amare was injured most of the time? Nash still owned.

    • riley says:

      woot go JAZZ! but true it is pre-season. hopefully hayword can keep going full out each game. Jefferson was an awesome add

    • dillon d says:

      Jerry west is obviously has been in cahoots with jerry bus ever since buss fired him in 2002. He was architect for the lakers 3 peat then buss, b/c he was cutting costs all over his franchise, decided to fired west. And coincidentally…. 5 years later when buss was on the brink of losing kobe bryant because kobe was furious during the summer of ’07 and in the beginning of the ’07-’08 season, Kobe is on tape demanding numerous times to be traded unless a shaq-like players was brought in to anchor the team(he publicly criticized & hated bynum at this point in his career)…. and POOF here is pau on the lkaers for a treemdnously loopsided trade (unproven marc gasol, draft bust K. browne, Jarvis C. [who never panned-out] & a draft pick, for GASOL). Jerry gave away the grizzlies future for basically nothing but garbage and an unproven lil bo of pau. Jerry is a laker forever, and, bluntly, buss’s lil b!tch, pardon my french, but he is buss’s tool, and buss used up west, threw him away, then got him to give up Memphis’s only franchise player (pau) to the same conference team!!! YOU never trade franchise players with in your own conference, b/c of exactly what happened with the lakers… Memphis was on brink of being a consistent playoff contender(made postseason in 05&06)… and then went to being a non-playoff team and making the lakers go to go the finals 3 years in a row…. West, you screwed over a whole franchise from (2007-2012), this is the amount of time kobe&pau will be on the best team in the west, just to keep in jerry buyss’s good graces, and to save the lakers franchise form crumbling and losing kobe…. man the NBA collusion and ref rigging by stern is getting to the point where it sometimes feels like WWE Pro Wrestling……

      also jerry west did a fine job drafting players… but he didn’t initiate nearly any trades his whole time in Memphis… and the one big trade he pulls off… is to give away a franchise player…. not to get a franchise player (marc gaosl WILL never be franchise player, good role playing center though)…. Just sad to me that only gregg popovich was only person with enough balls to publicly say something about the trade…. stern you have the whole NBA tied around your finger…. i cant wait till stern is not the commish anymore. West wass a great GM….. FOR THE LAKERS, even when he was in Memphis, still secretly the lakers GM… buss owes west alot more than he got from him.

      • dillon d says:

        this is west’s really only regret… that and not doing enough trade during his time in memphis to really get some talent around pau while he was there…. developing draft picks obvious would have and did take to long too help out pau….