Following the passing of arguably the best boxer in history, Muhammad Ali on June 3 2016, many NBA players, both former and current, spoke on the issue.
One of those, who saw Ali do his thing, was NBA legend Jerry West. According to NBA’s official website, when West went to Rome with the U.S. basketball team for the 1960 Olympics, the basketball star got to know a promising young boxer on the rise named Cassius Clay.
Clay was yet to become the world’s heavyweight boxing champion, the social activist, but even then West could feel the magnetism of a young man destined for greatness.
“I had heard of him a little bit, this kind of teenage sensation,” West said a day after Ali died. “Once you got there, my goodness, you could hear him coming from a mile away. A big smile, big personality, even then before he became a world champion. He was a magnificent person.”
West is a big boxing fan saw Ali fight in person several times. But more than his boxing skills, West said he grew to admire Ali’s fearlessness in attacking social issues that he felt needed to be changed.
“Certain people are courageous. He was very courageous in doing what no other athlete probably would have dared to have done, in particular a black athlete at that time,” West said.
“To me, he’s inspired the people to look at inequalities in this world and I think some of the things he did, he just changed the perceptions of people. He was a magnificent person. I loved that guy. I really did.”
Hall of Famer Jerry West played his entire 14-season career with the LA Lakers. He holds career averages of 27 ppg, 6.7 apg and 5.8 rpg in 39.2 mpg, appearing in total 932 NBA season games.
West led the NBA in scoring in 1969-70, also averaging over 30 points per game four times during his career. He was a 14-time NBA All-Star and helped the Lakers win the 1972 NBA championship.
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