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Jerry West Is The Basketball Hall Of Fame’s Three-Headed GOAT

Jerry West attends a basketball game between the Charlotte Hornets and the Portland Trail Blazersat the Thomas & Mack Center on July 11, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

There are lots of "GOATs" out there, to the point where being called "the GOAT" in anything almost seems like a flattering way of describing a journeyman. For instance, last night Malachi Flynn of the Detroit Pistons became a GOAT himself by being the person with the lowest career scoring average to score 50 in a game. The Pistons lost, of course, but nobody is calling them the GOAT until draft night.

But with "the GOAT" as a now-tedious cliche bestowed upon anyone who has a players union card, it behooves us to find something better. Fortunately there is Jerry West, who has never been "the GOAT" but has been "the logo," which if you think of it is more rarefied praise.

West is now "Cerberus," after the three-headed dog who guards Hades (or as we know it in this realm, the Washington Wizards' draft room). He is the only person ever to be named to the same Hall of Fame three different times, and not because the voters forgot he was already in two times already. He has been voted in as a player, an Olympian and now a contributor, as though the first two weren't contributions enough.

His contributions, aside from having the shooting form all children were taught to emulate for 60 years, include being credited as the architect of the Laker dynasties of the 1980s and 1990s and, more contemporarily, helping dissuade Golden State owner Joe Lacob from trading Klay Thompson and Draymond Green for Kevin Love the year before the Warriors began their own dynasty. West's accomplishments were so immense that nobody is holding his time with the Los Angeles Clippers against him.

You may think that putting the same bust in three different places smacks a bit of King Charles being given a torso full of medals just for outlasting his mother, but let's be honest—the Hall of Fame, every Hall of Fame, is a place where friends are rewarded and enemies punished. West at 85 has been a figure for 82 percent of the lifespan of the league, giving him a lot of time to do the former (and let's be fair, the latter) and therefore has shared space with everyone from Bill Russell to LeBron James. He is the history of the league without ever having to take the demeaning job of commissioner.

If you want to quibble about him not being the best player ever or the best general manager ever or even the best jumpshooter ever, fine. Smoke 'em if you got 'em, Pookie. We care not. All we know is, he's the first three-headed dog since Cerberus, and there not only aren't any other three-headed anythings in sports, there don't figure to be unless we start recruiting Neptunians, or unless LeBron coaches his sons to multiple NBA titles while owning controlling interest in the New Seattle SuperSonics while they embark on their own dynasty in the upcoming '30s.

(And while we're at it, Cerberus might have been a badass and all, but he never seemed able to break that chain tethering him to the gates of hell, so how badass could he have really been?)

So whatever your qualms may be about someone being a Hall of Famer thrice over (and honestly, why would you care that much one way or another), be honest here. Who doesn't want to see the familiar NBA logo on every court, only with two additional heads? It definitely beats a silhouette of a goat slapped next to the Meineke Auto Parts half-court ad.

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