Jerry West Puts On His MLB GM Cap and Weighs In on How He’d Handle Shohei Ohtani’s Pending Free Agency
Jerry West knows a thing or two about being a general manager. The man who ran the show from the Los Angeles Lakers front office during the “Showtime” era that collected five championships has seen it all. He traded for Kobe Bryant and signed Shaquille O’Neal. West is no stranger to big-time moves from the GM seat.
During a recent appearance on the Dan Patrick Show, Patrick asked West to play general manager of the Los Angeles Angels. The Angels have a monstrous decision to make on their two-way star Shohei Ohtani, who becomes a free agent after this season. Do they go all-out and try to sign him or trade him away at the deadline for the best offer? West played the role of Angels GM for a few minutes.
Jerry West has made his mark as an NBA GM
While the LA Lakers had Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and James Worthy, they also had Jerry West. West, a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer who won a championship with the Lakers as a player, added six more titles as an executive with the team.
West began his post-playing days with the Lakers as a scout in 1979 and remained in the front office through 2000. He became the GM before the 1982-83 season, but his biggest move came more than a decade later when he traded star center Vlade Divac to the Charlotte Hornets for a rookie named Kobe Bryant.
“(Vlade Divac) was a very good center and someone you want to play with,” West said recently on Podcast P With Paul George. “Everyone thought there was something wrong with him.”
The Hornets believed they got a steal in that trade.
“I think this is the best trade we’ve made in the history of the franchise,” said George Shinn, then the owner of the Hornets.
West then inked O’Neal to a free-agent deal in 1996, setting the foundation for LA’s three-peat from 2000 to 2002. West stepped down from his Lakers position after the 1999-2000 season. He returned to the NBA in 2002 to become the GM of the Memphis Grizzlies.
West also had stints with the Golden State Warriors, where he won two more titles as an executive, and the Los Angeles Clippers, where he remains today.
West believes the Angels should do what they can to keep Ohtani
Patrick asked West to play MLB GM for a few minutes. He asked him what he would do with Ohtani if he was in charge. Ohtani is an incredible two-way talent who is in line to become one of the most prized free agents in MLB history.
“That’s an incredible question,” West said. “I pay attention to all sports, and every once in a while, one of these iconic players comes into any sport, and you’re enthralled by him. With him, he’s one of the most unique players I’ve ever seen in baseball.
“He’s such a draw. You can’t measure what he does for a team. In New York, people come to see the Yankees. They’re like the Dodgers — their name is going to be there forever. With him, the way he attracts people, all kinds of people. The closeness that fans feel to him.
“I would have a difficult time letting him go. I would do anything in my power to keep him.”
Of course, there’s the other side of the coin where Ohtani might want a change of scenery, which would force the Angeles into making a trade.
“That’s the other side of the equation,” West said. “I think it’s real important to what you’re doing when you run a team. Establish close, personal relationships with these people. Make sure they know how much you care about them and want them. You need honesty. Today, it’s difficult to find that among agents and players, I think.”