- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 5, 2019

President Trump awarded the nation’s highest civilian honor Thursday to Jerry West, a legendary NBA player who later built the Los Angeles Lakers’ 1980s dynasty as a general manager.

“A great man, great player — and is going to be around for a long time,” Mr. Trump said of the 81-year-old.

The Hall of Fame guard was an All-Star in 14 seasons for the Lakers during the 1960s and early 1970s. He won an NBA title in 1972 and coached the Lakers in the late 1970s.

Later, as general manager, he guided the Lakers to several titles through the 1980s and paved the way for a three-peat in the early 2000s.

The iconic NBA logo is based on his silhouette.

Mr. West was born in West Virginia and played for the West Virginia University Mountaineers. They were NCAA runners-up in 1959, with Mr. West named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.

Mr. Trump alluded to West Virginia’s robust support for him in the 2016 election during the medal ceremony in the Oval Office.

Mr. West used his speaking time to honor his brother, David, who died while serving in the Korean War. He also thanked West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and recognized fellow medal recipients such as Desmond Tutu and Michael Jordan.

“I swear my name is going to look like a misprint on this list,” said Mr. West.

He also reflected on “those damn Celtics,” the Lakers’ historical rival out of Boston.

Last month, Mr. Trump awarded the Medal of Freedom to Celtics great Bob Cousy for his achievements on the court and solidarity with black teammates affected by racial segregation.

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