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Jerry West was my idol as I was growing up. This statement could have been made by many other West Virginia children as well as hundreds of thousands outside the Mountain State. If outsiders asked, "What is the difference between your state and the state of Virginia?", We would respond, "We had "WEST".
After reading this book, I quickly realized that our state moniker, "Almost Heaven", did not ring true for Jerry during his youth. Experiencing a difficult childhood, more unnurturing and unpleasant than we had ever been led to believe, it is simply amazing to me, that this man could be so fan friendly, courteous and publically humble all his life. Make no mistake, for a devoted fan this is a must read, but a difficult one. So compelling, that I could not put it down! It is a book for adults, however, due to its candid, transparent and honest assessments.
I met Jerry at Camp Wahoo, his basketball camp in Virginia in 1970. He had just lost his 7th NBA championship, this time to the Knicks. Depsite his personal disappointments, he was gracious and kind to each and every camper.(Ditto, 1971.) He agreed to all photograph and autograph requests, which, by the way, were always neat, legible and carefully written. Never rushed. Thirty seven years later, upon re-meeting him at Bob Huggin's Fantasy Camp in Morgantown, WV, I discovered how remakably consistent his autograph was.
At that Fantasy camp in June 2008, I had the priveledge of sharing dinner with Jerry and his co-author, Jonathan Coleman. (I actually introduced Mr. Coleman to Jerry's 1973 book, "Basketball My Way", which he was unaware existed at the time, but I digress). Jerry asked me why I decided at age 50 to attend the camp. I responded that my impetus was to meet him again! He then said, "I hope I do not disappoint you" He did not, but this statement speaks volumes, and I do believe this book explains the psychology behind this statement.
I am not objective when it comes to Jerry. I have an extensive memorabilia collection and a Jerry West display on my Optometric office wall. I am an unequivocal lifelong fan. So, trust me, if you are also a Jerry West fan, and you really want to know the "rest of the story", I suggest you read this book!
Dr. Stanley E. Toompas, Optometrist and Author of "I'm the One the Other Isn't"