Last night I was the guest of my old buddy Alan Rosenberg at 92nd Street Y’s “Evening with Jerry West,” one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Along with me was Bob Trupin, another great basketball fan, player and friend of Alan’s and mine. Thanks to Alan’s great planning we had seats in the front row and we were all able to shake West’s hand, the one that scored 25,192 points in the NBA regular season (27 ppg) and 4457 in the NBA playoffs (29.1 ppg) and 2309 (24,8 ppg) at West Virginia University,
The star of the evening was Jerry West, who has written a new and interesting book, West on West: My Charmed and Tormented Life. It’s a revelatory treatment of his life, regarding his parents, the tormented relationship with his father, the loss of his older brother in the combat of Korea, the agonies of his defeats in championships games from the 1959 NCAA finals to losses to the great Boston Celtic teams of the 1960s and 1970’s along with his relationships with the great players of his time and his years of angst as GM of the Lakers. It also tells of his co-captaining the victorious USA team in the 1960 Olympic Games, an NBA title in 1972 and his great success as the General Manager of the LA Lakers.
The 92nd Street Y was crowded with hundreds of fans wanting to get a glimpse at an American sports icon and hear his story in his own words. After the almost two hour interview, he signed books for his multitude of fans. The demand was so great for his book that the supply quickly ran out. Alan, Bob and I were able to get into the signing area, where Cal Ramsey, a good friend of Alan’s, the former great NYC scholastic standout and basketball star at NYU, was receiving plaudits from his legion of admirers.
Jerry West was one of America’s greatest basketball players. He played his entire professional career for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). His nicknames include “Mr. Clutch,” for his ability to make a big play in a clutch situation, such as his famous buzzer-beating 60-foot shot that tied Game 3 of the 1970 NBA Finals against the New York Knicks; “The Logo,” in reference to his silhouette being incorporated into the NBA logo; and “Zeke from Cabin Creek,” after the creek near his birthplace of Chelyan, West Virginia. Playing the small forward position early in his career, West was a standout at East Bank High School and at West Virginia University, leading the WVU Mountaineers to the 1959 NCAA championship game, earning Most Valuable Player honors despite the loss. He then embarked on a 14-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, and was the co-captain of the 1960 U.S. Olympic gold medal team in Rome, a squad that would be inducted as a unit into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.
Playing the guard position as a professional, he was voted 12 times into the All-NBA First and Second Teams, was elected into the NBA All-Star Team 14 times, and was chosen as the All-Star MVP in 1972, the same year that he won the only title of his career. West holds the NBA record for the highest points per game average in a playoff series with 46.3. He was also a member of the first four NBA All-Defensive Teams, which were introduced when he was 32 years old. Having played in nine NBA Finals, he is also the only player in NBA history to be named Finals MVP despite being on the losing team (1969). West was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1980 and voted as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA history in 1996.
Cal Ramsey, a native of Selma, Alabama as a youth, has been part of the NYC athletic landscape for over fifty years. Since his graduation from NYU in 1959, where he starred in basketball as an All-American, he still holds many team records and was a member of NYU’s Scholastic Honor Society. Because of his excellent career on the hard courts, he has been enshrined in a number of regional sport’s hall of fames. He is even a member of the famed Friar’s Club. After two seasons in the NBA with both the old St. Louis Hawks and the NY Knicks, his basketball career was cut short by a knee injury. He then began work in the NY Public Schools. He has devoted his life to working with the youth of NYC with regards to an emphasis on education and staying-in-school. Cal has had a three decade career in broadcasting and public relations with the NY Knicks, and has also devoted his considerable energies to NYU’s alumni affairs department.
My old buddy, Alan Rosenberg graduated from AB Davis/MVHS and New York University. He is a long-time CPA, who has offices in both New York City and Scarsdale and is an avid sports fan and memorabilia collector. Alan also played basketball for NYU, and has been heavily active in NYU alumni affairs.
Bob Trupin another friend and an All-Ivy Basketball star at Yale has been a coach, camp director, teacher, and commentator. He has had a long career as camp director, he has taught at places as varied as the NYC school system, Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, the Guilford Arts Center, the Shoreline Foundation, and college summer programs. His sport’s column, “Handle on Sports” appeared in the Shoreline Times newspapers for many years.
Bob, who originally grew up and was educated in Mount Vernon, NY, was a Westchester High School All-County Basketball player, played basketball at Yale University, where he was selected All-Ivy and was drafted by the NY Knicks. He worked for the Knicks in the publicity department in the late 1960’s. He also has an MBA from NYU’s Graduate School of Business and a MS from Fordham University. Bob, Alan and Cal Ramsey have been guests on The Advocates over the years. On December, 14, 2011, both Alan, and Bob will join Bruce Fabricant and The Advocates again on my annual “Sport’s Roundup” program of WVOX. Tune in at www.wvox.com.