Fisher’s Files: Reflections on Jerry West and basketball Mt. Rushmore

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Saturday, June 22, 2024 | 10:23 AM


The death of former NBA great Jerry West prompted some reflection on my part.

West, a 12-time All-NBA selection at the guard position, was one of my all-time favorite basketball players. He enjoyed a legendary career both on the court and in the front office, and was well-respected around the basketball world both as a player and an executive.

West would be a shoo-in for inclusion on my Mt. Rushmore of all-time favorite hoopsters. His death made me briefly pause and think about others who would be on my list of all-time favorites.

I’m an old school aficionado when it comes to basketball. Just look at the players (along with West) who I enjoyed watching the most throughout my athletic and journalistic life.

They all are considered all-stars: Wilt Chamberlain, “Pistol” Pete Maravich, Bill Russell, John Havlicek, Bill Walton, Lew Alcindor (aka Kareem Abdul Jabbar), Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Larry Bird and Billy Knight.

My high school basketball team at West Mifflin South actually defeated a highly touted Knight-led Braddock team during the 1969-70 winter season.

It was one of the highlights of my high school and college careers.

Two modern-day players I really enjoy watching are Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors and T.J. McConnell of the Indiana Pacers. Curry is undoubtedly one of the greatest shooters in NBA history; McConnell understands the nuances of the game and plays basketball the right way — thanks, I’m sure, to growing up under the influence of his dad Tim McConnell, a legendary “no-nonsense” floor boss who won nine WPIAL titles and more than 600 games at Chartiers Valley.

Coach McConnell went 552-146 as the boys coach with six WPIAL championships then switched over to coach the girls. His CV girls teams went 110-7 over four seasons with three WPIAL titles, a state championship and two state runner-up finishes. They also finished second in the WPIAL once.

I guess I’m both old and new school when it comes to my thoughts on favorite all-time female hoopsters.

Currently, it’s Caitlyn Clark, who starred at Iowa and is now a rookie on the Indiana Fever team in the WNBA. And in the not-too-distant past, Suzie McConnell-Serio was unforgettable while competing for Seton LaSalle, Penn State and in the Olympics and WNBA.

Clark and McConnell-Serio would make a dynamite backcourt tandem that I believe would be near-unstoppable.

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