Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Jerry West's Legacy

Before the Jerry West officially ends, when the first non-West team takes the floor, it's worth revisiting what he did for this franchise.

West may be the best NBA executive of all time. Unfortunately, his stay in Memphis isn't what solidified this position. Still, Jerry West was great for the Grizzlies. Though he didn't win a championship here or even a playoff game, West produced results that make his tenure a success.

In one season, West transformed the Grizzlies from a lottery team into a playoff team. In NBA terms, that amounts to instant results. Additionally, the attention West brought benefited the Grizzlies. West's stay brought national media coverage of Memphis that would've otherwise been focused elsewhere, and he lured players and personnel that would have otherwise laughed off the idea of relocating to Memphis. (Heisley deserves some credit here. After all he not only lured West out of semi-retirement, but has also lured West's successors.)

West's management of the Grizzlies was not without fault. His strategy (much criticized here) of pursuing old veterans produced short term results at the detriment of long term goals. Many of his moves (Drew Gooden, Brian Cardinal) turned out to be complete duds. Others (Eddie Jones, Bobby Jackson, James Posey Bonzi Wells, Damon Stoudemire) at times seemed solid, but quickly fizzled out. He never made a blockbuster acquisition that filled the Fedex Forum or raised the Grizzlies to the next tier.

Still, three playoff appearances in five seasons for a team that had been eliminated from the playoffs in November during every season of its existence is a clear success. The fact that the Grizzlies never won a playoff game is painful for fans and players alike, but many (not all) of the factors were out of West's control (most notably the fucked up seeding that resulted from the league's reorganization into 6 divisions). The fact that the Grizzlies made it to the playoffs were a direct result of West's moves, his best of which, hiring Hubie Brown, had the biggest impact.

Finally, for all of their faults, West's strategies have had one last result that could yet solidify his influence as genius and excuse his final and worst season. That result is to give the Grizzlies the financial flexibility to rebound with relative ease and quickness. Though West has no control over what happens moving forward, if his replacements find a way to get back to the playoffs and win a game within the next two seasons, West can still take credit for putting the pieces in motion to get to that point. However unlikely, if the Grizzlies win a playoff game this season, it will be West's greatest achievement.


Andy said...

Get your porno spike bartender add out of my face. I don't need bikini girl on my computer screen when I am "at work".

I'll accept all gay jokes at this point.

Mike said...