Jerry West A Believer And A Fan of Heat

Down through the years, any time another NFL team has approached matching their feat of an undefeated season, the members of the 1972 Miami Dolphins have openly rooted against them, even popping the cork on a celebratory bottle of champagne at the first loss.

However, as the leading man on the 1971-72 Lakers team that holds the NBA record for consecutive victories at 33, Jerry West is not only a believer in the Heat, but a fan.

“Honestly, I think they’ve got an incredible chance to do it,” said the Lakers Hall of Famer, now an executive with the Warriors, on a conference call Thursday. “I really do.

“People say to me, ‘Does it bother you?’ Absolutely not. I think it’s great for the league and I’m delighted obviously for my friend Pat Riley that he’s going to be able to maybe replicate this not only as an executive but as a player. That’s pretty special.”

Though the marquee lineup of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh grabs most of the attention, West praised the Heat for coming together to make a unit that’s greater than the sum of their parts.

“They have a team,” West said. “So much of the NBA has been about marketing its stars and players that have a flamboyant way of playing and we’ve got some incredible athletes playing this game. So much of the marketing of the NBA frankly has been about players.

“I think it’s time we talk about teams. When I look at the league this year, we’ve got a number of really good teams. And I’m not talking about individuals. You look how they play together. You’re talking about Denver, Memphis, San Antonio, obviously the Heat, and I don’t want to leave anyone out. I’m just mentioning those four teams, if you watch them play, particularly three of them.

“Miami has the biggest star in the game, OK? The best player in the game. Having him as a teammate has to be very special for all the other players. He makes it easy for them. He’s one of those unique players that comes along, a Kobe Bryant, players like that. (Kareem) Abdul-Jabbar, some are truly great, great players that will live forever. He’s in that class and Michael Jordan is, obviously. He just makes it so much easier for those guys. He’s just an amazing player and frankly I’m thrilled for him because of all the negative things that were said about him as a player and I think he’s rightly proved what kind of player he is and, more importantly, what kind of person he is.”

With the Miami streak now at 24 after the Heat’s 27-point comeback at Cleveland on Wednesday night, West said there’s no reason to think it can’t go on for a long time.

“It may not end. That’s why I think it’s so remarkable. I look at the schedule and I see one team on there that’s a terrific team and obviously that’s the Spurs. I don’t know what game that would be. That would be a game that I would be concerned about, playing in San Antonio and they’re going to have Tony Parker back by then.

“I just think … some nights you’re gonna go out there and you can’t make a shot and it might be all of you and it becomes contagious. But the one thing they’ve got going for them is defensively they can really get after you because of the ability of Wade and particularly LeBron. They’re ballhawks, and when you turn the ball over, it’s going to be a layup. It’s not going to be a jump shot. It’s going to be a layup. Those two guys in particular, if they’re in the open court, you can forget it. They’re going to score or get to the free-throw line.

“I just think it’s going to take a combination of a team that’s shooting the ball well that also has the capability to defend to beat them and obviously a poor shooting night on Miami’s part. But honestly, I haven’t looked at all their schedule, but I see their schedule coming up. There’s gonna be more and more focus on the games and I think it makes the players focus more on trying to achieve the record that everyone said couldn’t be broken. I think they’ve got a great chance to do it myself.”

West, who was also the architect of the “Showtime” L.A. teams of the 1980s and the Kobe-Shaq combo that “3-peated” to start the 21st century, cautions that this year’s Lakers could still be a playoff force if they qualify.

“I definitely wouldn’t want to play them, I know that,” he said. “I think they’d have a chance against anyone.

“I think if the Lakers would have their preference, they probably wouldn’t want to play Denver. I don’t think anyone would want to play them. Denver has proven they can win on the road and they just don’t lose at home.”

He called Memphis “a bunch of pack dogs” and the Grizzlies the toughest match for the Lakers because of their defense and their man in the middle.

“To me, they’ve got the most underrated player in the league on their team in Marc Gasol,” West said. “That guy is really a good player.”

He did not disparage the defending Western Conference champion Thunder, but has questions.

“If you watch Oklahoma City, to me, they don’t look like they’re the same team,” he said. “I think that they’re terrific, but they lose a great player in James Harden, and that’s going to happen to a lot of teams today, and can they make up for the loss of him? I’m not sure.”

West is also not sure who is up to finally ending the Miami streak.

“I look at their schedule and I say, my gosh. And you think to yourself: ‘I don’t know who.’ Unless they just have a horrible, horrible shooting night, I just don’t think those teams are capable of coming close to them.”

Even though it’s been 41 years and even though no other team had gotten closer to his Lakers’ streak than 11, West said he never believed the record was untouchable.

“I never thought that way,” he said. “I think this is what makes sports so intriguing. Is a number out there — (Joe) DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak. Will anyone ever do that? Football, the Dolphins, undefeated. A lot of people don’t think those things are possible. Well, they are possible.

“Particularly in basketball, I think you get a real unique team and Miami has a unique team. They’ve got great 3-point shooting and they’re never out of a game because of that. Then they’ve got the best player in the game that does all the little things. I’m sure any coach would love to coach him because he does so much.

“I never thought this streak would live forever. No. Not in today’s games… I just think it’s a streak that could very easily be broken this year. I really believe that.”

30 Comments

  1. I savour, cause I found just what I was looking for. You’ve ended my 4 day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye

  2. Jack says:

    MARCH 27???…cmon u mean the BULLS??…hahaha dream on,..johnlazy as your name so,…lazy to pick even the spurs mybe to validate it,..but the BULLS??..i dont think so??

  3. kenny says:

    A wise man once said “You play to win the game” . Lebron may never have six championships but Jordan doesn’t hold record for most consecutive wins! Make history Miami….go for it!

  4. leonard says:

    I thought the win streak wasn,t important to the Heat- only the bigger picture or is it only pretty boy talk on the part of the Heat stars

    • sjnoorvikalaska says:

      right now it wont be a big deal to them, but 40-50 years from now, they’ll be glad they broke the record…sure when/if they break it, they will acknolegde it to the world, but they want that championship…im sure pat riley is reminding them

  5. sjnoorvikalaska says:

    lebrons a historian, and while he’s got the pieces he want around him…he’s going to take advantage of it, heat win streak wont end in the regular season

  6. busa-boss says:

    it will be ended this march…for sure!!!

  7. Bryan says:

    im a spurs fan, and based on the way miami has been playing, im still scared for my team. Definitely a good matchup though…..

  8. dexter says:

    the right coach which is coach spoelstra and his coaching staff and the right roster with james leading the way and the supporting cast equivalent to a great team and a championship.

  9. dexter says:

    because they have the system of a coach that fits to everyone on their roster specially with james and that’s coach spoelstra’s system that he puts in the team.

  10. Brian says:

    They’ll lose in Washington on 4/10.

  11. silencio says:

    what did you expect from jerry west? a kobe bryant? I really, really dislike kobe.

  12. Eastbrook says:

    A unit that’s greater than the sum of its parts? The sum of the Heats’ top 3 players is better than 90% of any other teams’ full roster. You take out Lebron and Wade from this team and they probably end up with a worse record than the Bobcats. You take out Parker and Duncan from the Spurs and they’re still fighting to make the playoffs. So, that’s simply wrong both mathematically and intuitively. And I’m tired of this whole dont keep the streak at the expense of your team’s playoff performance. So what, are we now admitting that teams will give up games to stay fresh? And think about it, if the Heat were actually playing at full potential (which you claim they do and that will create a problem for them later), would they really have a 27 point deficit to a team whose best players in uniform were Wayne Ellington and Tristan Thompson? I want them to break the streak so that I can witness this kind of record, but man this team is very far from unbeatable right now..

  13. ene be a says:

    The only miami needs is a pure big center. A guy like brook lopez. Maybe yao ming. Lool.

  14. jawoparin says:

    enough of the win streaks. heat should focus on the championship. let’s go heat!!!!

  15. ene be a says:

    How can u be a laker fan? Lol… the lakers are full of names , but when it comes to win , jumm. I don’t know what to say really. Let’s wait for kobe and time will tell if they are true winners , if kobe is a true blood winners. Im not a laker fan I just can’t be a fan of a team that not play has a team. ///lebron james greatest teamate ever. And the greatest allaround player , and how he cannot be the greates scorer, he is the youngest to reach 20,000. But all he has done has been playing has a team , a winner. Put the cavs on the map for a few years. He also see mvp award has a team award. He has the greatest chance ever to be the greatest nba basketball player , monster games , mvps, and championships will tell… now lest enjoy lebron. I’m not a laker fan but not a hater. Kobe was the best before james gets drafted.

  16. JohnLazy says:

    Miami streak is coming end soon it’s on March 27 well see a good game out that date

  17. bitch please says:

    Very well said mr. Jerry West

  18. JMaine says:

    People can learn a thing or two from Jerry West. humility and being happy for other people achievements. Don’t have to like the people or the team but you can’t deny the facts.

  19. John says:

    Props to Jerry West. Love a man who was great enough to be part of a historically awesome team while still being humbling enough to give credit where credit is due.

  20. LebronKingOfNba says:

    give credit when credit is due. nice and true guy jerry west

  21. ene be a says:

    Miami has to play like they lost 24 games in a row, then they may win 24 more?

  22. sports fan says:

    Jerry West knows great team play and respects it when he sees it. I’m not at all surprised at everything he had to say. For him to be a fan of the Heat shows he’s supportive of NBA as whole and not just be a Lakers & Warriors fan.

  23. digitioli says:

    In a word, West is saying their schedule is a miracle.
    His team would have beaten these guys 8 out of 10.
    And the showtime Lakers probably the same.
    No big man? No way!

    • Ballboy says:

      “No big man? No way!” Yeah, I guess that’s why Miami has a 24 game win streak and LA’s in the 8th seed for the playoffs. Not to mention Miami has beat teams with some of “the best” centers in the league. Actually, they already beat every team in the NBA this season. So the argument you just made is actually ridiculously stupid.

  24. slider821 says:

    Jerry West is a smart man and knows a good deal about bball. Glad to have him in the Warriors front office.

  25. Freida says:

    It would be nice if they can break that record but not at the expense of someone getting hurt and losing the possibility of a championship. I am pretty sure Lebron would rather have a championship ring than beating a 33 game streak. I am pretty sure he would like both but I think he would first want the 2nd championship ring. I say it’s a bird, it’s plane, it’s LeBron James, human or superhuman? He is an amazing player and I am proud to be a fan of LeBron James!!!!

  26. W/E says:

    Jerry West u traitor u were supposed to be a Laker fan

    • TheStarMiddleschooler says:

      ^
      |
      | How are the Lakers this season?
      | Would you want to be a fan?
      | Let OKC know how Dwight Coward is turning out

      • LakersWillWin says:

        How are the Lakers, would you want to be a fan?
        LOL the most BANDWAGON statement I have ever read on this site.
        Case closed.