The NBA lost a giant in Hall of Fame forward Elgin Baylor. Baylor, an 11-time All-Star, passed away Monday at the age of 86. For the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers, Baylor, the loss hit close to home.
Baylor spent much of his time in the NBA with the two Los Angeles ballclubs. Baylor played his entire career with the Lakers organization, the first two years in Minneapolis before the team relocated to Los Angeles. With the Clippers, Baylor held the general manager title for 22 years with the team. Both the Lakers and Clippers, as well as the NBA released statements to honor Baylor.
A statement from Jerry West on the passing of Elgin Baylor. pic.twitter.com/JTczP8ia5I
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) March 22, 2021
Before Dr. J and other high-flyers came on the scene, there was Baylor, who was the first player in the history of the NBA to break the 70-point barrier in a game when he erupted for 71 points against the New York Knicks in a game played in 1960. What Baylor was able to do on the basketball court with his 6-foot-5 height is quite unbelievable.
During the 1961-62 NBA season, Baylor averaged 38.3 points and 18.6 rebounds. In the season prior to that, Baylor ripped off 19.8 rebounds and scored just over 34 points a game.
Elgin Baylor: Forever part of our Lakers Family. pic.twitter.com/zcRhVUSSmx
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) March 22, 2021
Earvin “Magic” Johnson, the orchestrator of the “Showtime” Lakers that won five NBA titles, paid homage to Baylor in his own way, saluting the 10-time All-NBA First Team member on Twitter.
RIP to the NBA’s first high flyer, Lakers Legend, & Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor. Before there was Michael Jordan doing amazing things in the air, there was Elgin Baylor! A true class act and great man, I’ll always appreciate the advice he shared with me when I first came into the pic.twitter.com/khPRc73gqW
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) March 22, 2021
For his career, Baylor averaged 24.9 points and 15 rebounds a game. Picked by the Lakers with the first overall selection in the 1958 draft, Baylor also put up four assists a game and earned Rookie of the Year honors.
“Elgin was THE superstar of his era – his many accolades speak to that,” said Lakers Governor Jeanie Buss. “He was one of the few Lakers players whose career spanned from Minneapolis to Los Angeles. But more importantly, he was a man of great integrity, even serving his country as a U.S. Army reservist, often playing for the Lakers only during his weekend pass. He is one of the all-time Lakers greats with his No. 22 jersey retired in the rafters and his statue standing guard in front of STAPLES Center. He will always be part of the Lakers legacy. On behalf of the entire Lakers family, I’d like to send my thoughts, prayers and condolences to Elaine and the Baylor family.”
Elgin Baylor was the #1 draft pick in 1958. Known for his shooting, rebounding and hangtime, he was an immediate star player. His deeply physical, acrobatic moves revolutionized play above the rim in a way that endures today.pic.twitter.com/sgYq6f73Zf
— NBA (@NBA) March 23, 2021
Baylor is survived by his wife Elaine, a daughter (Krystal), a son and daughter (Alan and Alison) from a previous marriage, and a sister (Gladys Baylor Barrett). Baylor’s wife Elaine issued her own statement (via Lakers) about her beloved husband.
“Elgin was the love of my life and my best friend,” said Elaine. “And like everyone else, I was in awe of his immense courage, dignity and the time he gave to all fans. At this time we ask that I and our family be allowed to mourn his passing in privacy.”