Lakers legends Jerry West, Michael Cooper are finalists for Hall of Fame

Lakers forward Michael Cooper raises his finger to signify the Lakers are No. 1.
Lakers forward Michael Cooper, a defensive stopper on the “Showtime era” teams, has been selected as a finalist for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
(Bettmann Archive via Getty Images)

Clippers consultant and former Lakers general manager Jerry West and Lakers “Showtime” defensive stopper Michael Cooper were among the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame finalists announced Friday inside Lucas Oil Stadium.

Former L.A. Times columnist J.A. Adande was announced as the Curt Gowdy Media Award winner (print). Former Times basketball writer Mark Heisler won the award in 2006.

West, who was inducted as a player in 1980, is a finalist for his work as an executive with the Lakers, Grizzlies, Warriors and Clippers.


Cooper, a five-time NBA champion with the Lakers and an eight-time All-Defensive team selection, was previously a finalist in 2022.

Adande, who is the director of sports journalism at Northwestern University, worked for 10 years as a columnist at The Times as well as the Chicago Sun-Times, Washington Post and ESPN. He has covered 20 NBA Finals plus Super Bowls, World Series, Stanley Cup finals, Olympics, and major soccer, tennis and golf tournaments.

Former NBA stars Vince Carter, Chauncey Billups and Walter Davis as well as WNBA star Simone Augustus were among the finalists announced, with the 2024 Hall of Fame class to be announced on April 6 at the NCAA Final Four. The class will be enshrined on Aug. 17 in Springfield, Mass.

“Unbelievable,” Carter said. “You look in the crowd, you see Hall of Famers, and the opportunity. … I mean, you can’t beat that. You can’t beat that. It’s a proud moment.”

Other finalists include former Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan; Charles Smith, the winningest high school head coach in Louisiana history; former Kansas coach Marian Washington; Australian guard Michele Timms; three-time NAIA champion Dick Barnett of Tennessee A&I; and six-time AAU champion coach Harley Redin.

Two other contributors were chosen as finalists: former player and coach Doug Collins and Indiana Pacers owner Herb Simon.


NBA Inside Stuff, Slam Magazine and broadcaster Debbie Antonelli were also honored with media awards.

It’s a slam dunk

Mac McClung’s life changed dramatically last year when he won the dunk contest on All-Star weekend. And now he’s trying to do it again.

McClung, who plays for the G League’s Osceola Magic, is trying to join Michael Jordan, Jason Richardson, Nate Robinson and Zach LaVine as the only back-to-back dunk contest champions. He’ll go up against Boston’s Jaylen Brown, Miami’s Jaime Jaquez Jr. and New York’s Jacob Toppin on Saturday night.

“I think I’m more nervous this time, I think it adds a little pressure,” McClung said. “But I’m just reminding myself to have fun with it. We’ve worked really hard so hopefully it all comes to fruition.”

Jaquez said his decision-making process on entering the contest was simple: The NBA called and asked, and he said yes.

“It was that easy,” Jaquez said.

Around the NBA

Clippers coach Tyronn Lue has been fined $35,000 by the NBA for publicly criticizing game officials and questioning their integrity. The fine was related to the veteran coach’s comments to his team Wednesday night after the Clippers’ victory at Golden State. Lue got two separate technical fouls early in the fourth quarter, and he was ejected after a brief skirmish between the teams. …


Delon Wright has agreed to a contract buyout with the Washington Wizards and, once he clears waivers, intends to sign with the Miami Heat, a person with knowledge of the move said.

Associated Press contributed to this report.