Jamie Lester began to create the Jerry West Statue in 2006. It took just over one year to complete the project, encompassing an array of processes from design and planning, clay sculpture, mold making, bronze casting and finally, installation. As with any complicated project, the creation of a bronze statue involves many more than the primary sculptor. The statue would not have been as successful without the help of an array of skilled professionals.
Lester was up against formidable opponents in the competition create the statue. Accomplished sculptors from all over the United States were vying for the commission. In the end, a 15″ high maquette that Jamie created pushed his proposal over the top, convincing the committee to award the bid to Vandalia Bronze. The total price for the project, including creation of the Jerry West Plaza, a granite base, the statue and a state of the art lighting system was $253,130.05. The funding was completed with a gift from Michael Heisley, owner of the Memphis Grizzlies, for whom Jerry West was general manager.
The statue was sculpted in an old Studebaker warehouse on Richwood Avenue in Morgantown, WV that Lester rented specifically for the project, as it was very secluded and easily kept secret from the general public. Jerry West did not know about the project to honor his accomplishments with a bronze statue, and it was decided that he was not to find out. The statue was to be a surprise at the time of unveiling.
Jamie worked with Joe Swan, director of WVU Athletic Publications to access the myriad of photo information available from the WVU photo archives. Joe was able to provide hundreds of photos of the basketball star from every angle, which helped to make an exact portrait. The statue depicts Jerry as he appeared during his college career at West Virginia University in 1956 – 1960.
Lester created the statue with a welded steel armature, foam core, and about 1,000 lbs of Roma plastelina clay. The clay stage took about 20 weeks to complete. Detailed molds were constructed from Polytek 74-20 polyurethane rubbers and a rigid polyurethane mother mold shell. The bronze investment was completed with our foundry, Coopermill Bronze Works, in Zanesville, Ohio.
The foundry added a small but very interesting detail to the statue. There is a West Virginia Quarter welded to the underside of the Jerry West Statue’s left foot. Charles Leasure of Coopermill Bronzeworks surprised Jamie with this detail, which ties the sculptor to the statue in an interesting way.
The statue was unveiled Saturday, February 14th, on a cold and snowy day before a crowd of friends, family and fans. Then Governor Joe Manchin spoke at the dedication, as did Jerry West himself.
Source: Vandalia Bronze
Jerry West – Biography
Jerry Alan West was born on May 28, 1938 in Cheylan, WV. He is a retired American basketball player who played his entire professional career for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association. His nicknames include “Mr. Clutch”, for his ability to make a big play in a clutch situation, such as his famous buzzer-beating 60-foot shot that tied Game 3 of the 1970 NBA Finals against the New York Knicks; “The Logo”, in reference to his silhouette being incorporated into the NBA logo; “Mr. Outside”, in reference to his perimeter play with the Los Angeles Lakers; and “Zeke from Cabin Creek”, for the creek near his birthplace of Chelyan, West Virginia. Playing the small forward position early in his career, West was a standout at East Bank High School and at West Virginia University, leading the Mountaineers to the 1959 NCAA championship game, earning the NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player honor despite the loss. He then embarked on a 14-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, and was the co-captain of the 1960 U.S. Olympic gold medal team in Rome, a squad that would be inducted as a unit into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.
After his playing career, West was head coach of the Lakers for three years, leading Los Angeles into the playoffs each year and earning a Western Conference Finals berth once. Working as a player-scout for three years, West was named general manager of the Lakers prior to the 1982–83 NBA season. Under his reign, Los Angeles won six championship rings. In 2002, West became general manager of the Memphis Grizzlies and helped the franchise win their first-ever playoff berths. For his contributions, West won the NBA Executive of the Year Awardtwice, once as a Lakers manager (1995) and then as a Grizzlies manager (2004). West’s son, Jonnie, played college basketball for the West Virginia Mountaineers team.