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Lakers legend says he wouldn't have stayed a Laker if there was free agency in his time

It's no secret he disliked ownership.

Jerry West has stayed involved with the NBA ever since he was a player from 1960-74 and then became a coach as well as a member of the front office for a few teams including the Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies. He has always been advocate of free agency and more rights for the players as he nearly boycotted the 1964 All-Star Game because he and other players wanted the players union to be taken seriously.

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He was part of the effort that saw limited free agency start in 1976 and eventually expand to unrestricted free agency in 1988. He was outspoken on the Kevin Durant criticism and said that KD had every right to go where he wanted to in free agency so he clearly cares deeply about the subject. There was one experience in his life that made him wish it had just come sooner though.

"I remember years ago, if I had had an opportunity to leave the Lakers, I would have left for one reason: because I did not like an owner that was not telling me the truth. And it would have made no difference what they would have offered me, I would have left. And it's easy to say after the fact, but players have earned the right to go where they want to go."

Jack Kent Cooke was the owner at the time and it's not a big secret that West didn't like him, but there was pretty much nothing he could do about it because he didn't have free agency during his playing days. There was no way the Lakers would trade him either so West was stuck in a situation he didn't like, but could you imagine if he had gone somewhere else? He could have gone closer to home —- he's from West Virginia —- like the Baltimore Bullets or the newly relocated Philadelphia 76ers (they moved there for the 1963-64 season) and maybe the Lakers aren't the historical winning team they are known as now.


[h/t CBS Sports]