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Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011

Lakers great West's statue unveiled

LOS ANGELES (AP) The Logo is now a statue.

Jerry West has been immortalized in a larger-than-life bronze statue outside Staples Center, joining likenesses of fellow Los Angeles Lakers greats Magic Johnson and Chick Hearn in Star Plaza.

West, the hard-nosed Hall of Fame guard whose silhouette adorns the NBA's logo, formally unveiled the statue Thursday night in a star-studded ceremony kicking off All-Star weekend in Los Angeles. The honor celebrates both West's 14-year playing career and his remarkable front-office tenure with the Lakers, building two teams that won multiple titles.

With tears welling in his eyes at times, the 72-year-old West thanked the Lakers, Staples Center and dozens of attending friends for the honor, but acknowledged he felt uncomfortable getting so much attention.

"This is awkward for me," West said before pulling a gold cord to drop a curtain surrounding the statue. "To be honored by the people I admire most is just incredible. . . . I played for the fans of L.A., and particularly my teammates. Every time I put on a Laker uniform, I was filled with a tremendous sense of pride."

After leaving West Virginia as the Lakers' first draft pick in Los Angeles in 1960, West began his career teaming with Elgin Baylor, who attended the ceremony along with Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, Pat Riley, Shaquille O'Neal and NBA commissioner David Stern.



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