West Virginia leaders are mourning the loss of The Logo.

Gov. Jim Justice

Gov. Jim Justice, in remarks during a briefing today, remembered Jerry West as more than just a basketball legend. Justice reflected on West as a friend and outdoorsman. West died today at age 86. 

“We celebrate the life of a gentleman that we lost — and a hero in every way in West Virginia; basically in many ways, what we stand for — Jerry West,” Justice said.

Justice described memories of hunting turkeys or fishing along West Virginia’s streams with West. “Gracious goodness, the times we spent together,” Justice said.

The governor described a recent spring morning when he texted West: “We had a lot of wonderful turkey hunts and great memories. Sure miss you.”

Reading from his cell phone, Justice said West responded, “What happened with those good old days filled with friends and laughter?”

And the governor said he replied, “We had a lot of great days, and I hope and pray we’ll still have a lot more of those great days in front of us.”

Jerry West

West, known as “Zeke from Cabin Creek,” grew up in eastern Kanawha County and was a basketball standout at East Bank High School and West Virginia University. West led the Mountaineers to the 1959 NCAA championship game and was named Final Four Most Outstanding Player despite a loss in the championship.

He joined the Los Angeles Lakers for a 14-year playing career, named 12 times to All-NBA teams and winning the league championship in 1972 on a team that included Wilt Chamberlain. An image of the guard’s silhouette became the basis for the NBA’s logo.

Following his playing career, he achieved broad respect as an executive with the Lakers and other professional teams.

MORE: The world of basketball commemorates the life and career of Jerry West

West retained many ties to West Virginia.

In the summer of 2000, the city of Morgantown and then-Gov. Cecil Underwood dedicated the road outside of the West Virginia University Coliseum, “Jerry West Boulevard.” In 2005, his number 44 became the first basketball number to be retired by West Virginia University. In 2007, a bronze statue of West’s likeness dribbling a basketball was installed outside of the WVU Coliseum.

In 2007, a bronze statue of West’s likeness dribbling a basketball was installed outside of the WVU Coliseum.

A steakhouse at The Greenbrier Hotel, the historic resort owned by Justice and his family, is called Prime 44 West after the basketball great.

“I’m telling you, this was a good man — a man that loved West Virginia beyond good sense in every way, a man that told me so many times the people of West Virginia, what makes us what we are is we’re real,” Justice said.

Joe Manchin

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin said he and his wife, Gayle, were devastated to hear that West had died.

“Jerry was a pillar of West Virginia culture and never forgot his roots. To his core, Jerry was a West Virginian with an unbeatable work ethic and resilience like no other. He was a great friend and a world-class representative for both the NBA and for West Virginia,” Manchin said today.

Shelley Moore Capito

Senator Shelley Moore Capito posted on social media that West will forever be a West Virginia icon. “A native of Chelyan in Kanawha County, Jerry made West Virginia incredibly proud through his continued contributions to our state and the game of basketball,” Capito posted.

Gordon Gee

West Virginia University President Gordon Gee also said West’s legend will live on.

“As the basketball world mourns the man known simply as ‘the logo,’ I join all West Virginians and members of the West Virginia University family in remembering a true legend,” Gee posted. “There will never be another Jerry West.”

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