Rookie Card Year: 1961-62
Investment Rating: 7.0
"The Logo." "Mr. Clutch." "Mr. Outside." "Zeke from Cabin Creek." These were the nicknames bestowed on Jerry West. He ended his NBA career as one of the most decorated players in league history, and has continued to enjoy basketball success in his retirement. Despite his many achievements, Jerry West cards and autographs will not break the bank and remain a popular collectible.
Following his college career at West Virginia, Jerry West was the second overall pick in the 1960 NBA draft and was selected by the Minneapolis Lakers. The team would relocate to Los Angeles before the beginning of the 1960-61 season. West spent his entire career with the Lakers and retired in 1974 after a 14-year career. He was named an NBA All-Star in each of his 14 seasons, and helped the Lakers win the 1972 NBA title. Despite being on the losing side versus Bill Russell and the Celtics, Jerry West was still named the 1969 Finals MVP. Accolades continued to find West in retirement, and he was named to the 35th and 50th NBA Anniversary teams and inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame in 1980.
After retiring, Jerry West remained involved in the game as coach for the Lakers, and later as the general manager for the Lakers and the Memphis Grizzlies.
As impressive as his basketball career, Jerry West's cardboard career is much more limited. Outside of 1961-62 Fleer, much of the decade is lost for Jerry West collectors. Kahn's Wieners, which produced sets including West for several years, was the only other option until Topps came along at the end of the 1960s. From there, West was featured in Topps products during the first few years of the 1970s, until he retired. Renewed interest in the former greats brought Jerry West back into major basketball releases starting in 1991-92 products. Autograph cards remain in good supply and can generally be found for reasonable prices.
Jerry West Rookie Cards
The very first professional card for Jerry West, 1960-61 Kahn's Wieners were a regional release that came with Kahn's food packages. The only Laker in the set, the rest of the cards featured members of the Cincinnati Royals, including Oscar Robertson.
As one of the top vintage basketball sets in history, 1961-62 Fleer features a handful of top players, including the rookie card for Jerry West. Yellow and orange work well, but the purple in the Lakers logo does clash a bit. These pricey cards are tough to find in mint condition and even low grades can command solid amounts.
A cheaper alternative to his official rookie card, the "In Action" subset offers an actual game image. Although titled "Jerry West Snags a Rebound," the image choice seems questionable since it is not all that clear who the player in the background is and #33 is Hot Rod Hundley.
Jerry West Autographed Memorabilia Buying Guide
Below you will find an example of what Jerry West's authentic signature looks like. This can be used as a first point of reference for determining the legitimacy of autograph memorabilia, but is not a substitute for having your items authenticated by a well-respected professional autograph authentication company. Reputable authentication companies include JSA, PSA, Panini Authentic and Mounted Memories, to name a few.
Jerry West Cut Signature Exemplar
Jerry West Key Signature Attributes: An authentic Jerry West signature autograph will exhibit several distinguishing characteristics, depending on when in his career the item was signed. Other characteristics that play into his signature style are the particular item and venue. Look for the following signature features:
- With such a simple name, Jerry West's signature is not all that clear.
- The "J" looks more like a cursive "A" and finishes with a clear "e-r-r."
- The "y' features a limited downward motion and immediately transitions into line away from the signature.
- The last name begins with a "W" that appears more like a "T" or number one.
- The last name is more jumbled, as the "e-s" is merged together and the "t" looks like more a squiggle.
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