Elgin Baylor, untitled NBA star, dies

Elgin Baylor, next to the statue dedicated to him at the Staples Center in 2018.

Elgin Baylor, one of the NBA’s most legendary players, has passed away at the age of 86. His career was extraordinary. The 1.96-meter forward born in Washington (Columbia), was the first player to overcome the 70-point barrier, the Rookie of the year in 1958 and averaged 27.4 points and 13.5 rebounds during a career that ended in 1971. He earned the respect and admiration of the NBA despite losing the eight finals he reached with the Lakers, the team he belonged to throughout his career, the first two seasons in Minneapolis, before the franchise will move to Los Angeles in the 1960-1961 season. He had the misfortune to meet the best Celtics in history, a team that won eight titles in a row since Baylor started in the NBA and two more before he retired.

“He was the superstar of his time, a man of great integrity, who even served his country as a reservist in the United States Army, often playing for the Lakers when he was on leave on weekends,” the Lakers wrote in a statement. Los Angeles franchise owner Jeanie Buss. “He’s one of the all-time greats in the Lakers and that’s why his number 22 jersey is hanging from the ceiling and he has a statue in front of the Staples Center. It will always be part of the Lakers’ legacy. ” Baylor’s record with the Lakers, with 71 points against the New York Knicks in November 1960, had to wait to be surpassed until January 2006, when Kobe Bryant scored 81 against the Toronto Raptors.

A knee injury forced Baylor to prevent him from playing the 1965 finals against the Celtics, so his statistics only show seven lost finals. That injury prevented him from shining again as before and ended up forcing him to retire in November 1971. And precisely that same season, 1971-1972, the Lakers, with Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West and Pat Riley, won the title after beating the New York Knicks in the final.

Baylor also failed to get the title during his college years. He lost his only final, to Seattle, in 1958, although he was named the game’s MVP. The Lakers chose him in the first place of the draft. He had already been chosen in the 14th position in 1956, but then he decided to continue playing in the University League.

When he concluded his career as an NBA player, Baylor undertook a stage as coach of the Jazz, then (1976-1979) based in New Orleans. He was athletic director for the Clippers from 1986 to 2009. He was named NBA Executive of the Year in 2005-2006, when the Clippers won 47 games and reached the Western Conference semifinals. Baylor left the team due to age and also accused management of racial discrimination. His claim was dismissed. But the franchise owner, Donald Sterling, was expelled from the NBA in 2014 after footage of him making racist comments was released. Baylor explained that he had worked for Sterling because of limited job opportunities for former black players and the need to support his family.

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