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No. 47

Jerry West Signs New Deal

After months of speculation and rumors about his future, Lakers Executive Vice President Jerry West agreed to remain with the team, signing a four-year contract extension worth a reported $3.5 million per year.

The deal, which runs through the 2002-2003 season, makes West, 60, one of the highest-paid team executives who are not also coaches.

The future of West, who has brought such superstars as Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant to the franchise, first came into question in April. At the time, a published report indicated that he planned to leave in August a year before his contract was due to expire over concerns about a heavy workload and its effects on his health. West had previously said he would retire when his current contract expired in the summer of 1999.

West’s history with the team goes back three decades, and includes 14 seasons as a player and 16 years in charge of the club’s basketball operations the longest such tenure in the National Basketball Association. The Lakers have won three championships in that time, and advanced to the finals seven times. He was also selected executive of the year by his peers in 1994-95.

In a news conference to announce the four-year extension, West admitted that he had received an “absolutely incredible” financial offer from elsewhere, but he declined to be specific. In announcing his contract extension, West added that he has no intention of ever seeking to leave the team again.

D.B. Young

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