Today in Sports History: April 23

In 1969, Los Angeles point guard Jerry West scored 53 points as the Lakers edged Boston 120-118 in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. The Celtics went on to win the series in seven games. At the time, West’s 53 points ranked as the highest-scoring game by a guard in NBA Finals history. West’s performance in the finals was so dominant that he was named NBA Finals MVP in 1969. Averaging 37.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 7.4 assists in the series, West was the first-ever awardee and the only player to win the award while being on the losing team in the NBA Finals. The 2nd pick in the 1960 NBA Draft, West was a perfectionist who excelled in every aspect of the game. West spent his entire 14 season NBA career with the Lakers and led Los Angeles to win the 1972 NBA Finals. In 932 regular-season games, West held career averages of 27 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 6.7 assists. West’s other accolades include 10x All-NBA First Team, 4x NBA All-Defensive First Team, NBA scoring champion 1970, NBA assists leader 1972, and 14x NBA All-Star. West was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1980 and his no. 44 was retired by the Los Angeles Lakers.

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