Jerry West on his past, present, future

Updated: February 9, 2005, 3:51 PM ET
By Chad Ford | ESPN Insider
MEMPHIS – Jerry West, president of the Memphis Grizzlies and an NBA icon, joined the Grizzlies in April of 2002 after a 40-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers as a player, coach and executive. West, 66, retired from the Lakers in 2000 and then unretired to take on the challenge of building Memphis into an NBA power.

The Grizzlies, coming off a 23-59 record in the first season in Memphis before West's arrival, went 28-54 and 50-32 in their first two seasons on his watch. This year, the team is 28-21 (through Feb. 8) after starting the season 5-11 and undergoing a coaching change after Hubie Brown resigned.

Last week, Insider sat down with West for a conversation that covered a wide range of topics. The interview touched on everything from West's formula for success, his departure from the Lakers, trends around the league, his plans for the Grizzlies and his long-term future in Memphis. What follows is an edited transcript.

On his formula for success …
"Sometimes we get lucky. I think you have to say that first."

"One thing I believe strongly in is character of players."

"I believe strongly in basketball IQ."

"In doing things, I'm willing to be more of a risk taker than some people."

"I go watch the games, [and] I watch them in a box. I don't want anyone to talk to me. Just leave me alone. I pay attention to my team. I watch players. I watch them come out of games, how they handle it."

"I think a lot of times people get excited about trades where a guy that's traded averages 20 or 22 points a game on a team that hasn't had any success. Most of the times those are real failures for you. ... Numbers lie a lot. Wins and losses don't lie."

Chad Ford

ESPN Senior Writer