OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) When Jerry West went to Rome with the U.S. basketball team for the 1960 Olympics, the basketball star got to know a promising young boxer on the rise named Cassius Clay.
He was not yet the world heavyweight champion, the social activist, the global icon he would later become as Muhammad Ali. But even in those early days, West could feel the magnetism of a young man destined for greatness.
''I had heard of him a little bit, this kind of teenage sensation,'' West said Saturday, a day after Ali died. ''Once you got there, my goodness, you could hear him coming from a mile away.
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''A big smile, big personality, even then before he became a world champion. He was a magnificent person.''
The NBA plans to honor Ali with a moment of silence before Game 2 of the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday. The tribute also will likely include a short video or photo montage.
West, LeBron James and Stephen Curry joined the legion offering remembrances and paying homage Saturday.
''When an icon like Muhammad Ali passes away, it's very emotional,'' James said. ''It's also gratifying to know that a guy, one man, would sacrifice so much in his individual life knowing that it would better the next generation of men and women after him.
''Today I can go to China and all over the world and people know my name and know my face. I give all credit to Muhammad Ali because he was the first icon. He is the GOAT. He's the greatest of all time and it has zero to do with his accomplishments inside the ring.''
West is a big boxing fan, and the former Los Angeles Lakers great saw Ali fight in person several times. But more than his boxing skills, West said he grew to admire Ali's fearlessness in attacking social issues that he felt needed to be changed.
''Certain people are courageous. He was very courageous in doing what no other athlete probably would have dared to have done, in particular a black athlete at that time,'' West said. ''To me, he's inspired the people to look at inequalities in this world and I think some of the things he did, he just changed the perceptions of people. He was a magnificent person. I loved that guy. I really did.''
Curry said he always admired how Ali used his status and popularity as an athlete to speak passionately about what he believed in.
''Ali was the example of how you use your platform and speak what you believe no matter what people will say,'' Curry said, ''and (I) look at him (with) a sense of confidence in that regard, for sure.''