SACRAMENTO, Calif. – That was Jerry West, all right, passionate and owning the room and talking about taking risks in his tightrope walk of being deferential to fellow Warriors executives while making clear he didn’t sign up to be a figurehead. Most of all, that was Jerry West back in the front-office game with a Tuesday press conference in San Francisco so crackling with Logo energy that the only surprise was that he didn’t jump all the way to announcing his return as a player.
The passion that sears him to misery – unprompted, he brought up the Lakers’ string of Finals losses to the Celtics – is also what drives him to greatness, and now the Warriors have both. There is a good chance Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, the majority owners, don’t really know what kind of roller-coaster ride they’re in for. West at his kinetic best is that good.
“If somebody thinks I’m a figurehead, we should part company right now,” West said as he was introduced as a member of the team’s executive board. He meant it.
He will go overboard to make it clear Larry Riley and Bob Myers are running basketball operations, in much the same way West was conscious of steering clear of the Lakers to avoid the perception he was still standing over the shoulder of successor Mitch Kupchak. But make no mistake. This is not West taking a gig to stay busy.
This is West with the same attitude as his best Lakers days.
“I know my place in this organization,” he said at the press conference. “I think I can be of help. I think I can stimulate ideas. I think I can encourage them to be bold and risk-taking. The best risk takers do the best in this business. I think that’s how he (Guber) founded his life and I know that’s how you (Lacob) founded your life. Larry I’ve known for years. One of the finest men I’ve ever met in my life. Bob, as I mentioned, is young and enthusiastic.
“I will tell you I’m no shrinking violet. I’m not. If you don’t want my opinion, don’t ask. I would hope that our conversations would be stimulating. But more importantly, to get everyone thinking about what’s in the best interest of this team and try to build a brand that these fans really deserve. The fans here are incredible.”