West played basketball for West Virginia University where "Mr. Clutch" was twice named an All-American. In 1959, he led his team to the NCAA basketball tournament championship game and West was selected the most valuable player for the tournament, even though his team lost. West won gold as co-captain of the 1960 U.S. Olympic basketball team. As a pro player, West was fourteen times named a NBA All-Star. He is among the 50 Greatest Players in NBA history. His storied career included forty years with the Lakers, first as a player, then as head coach, then as general manager.
In April 2007, West announced he would step down from President of Basketball Operations for the Memphis Grizzlies.