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Elgin Baylor, Lakers Legend and Basketball Hall of Famer, Dies at 86

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 22, 2021

NBA Hall of Fame and former player, Elgin Baylor speaks at an event before an NBA basketball game between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Dallas Mavericks in Los Angeles, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
Alex Gallardo/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Lakers announced that team legend and NBA Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor died of natural causes on Monday. He was 86.

The team released the following statement:

Baylor spent 14 NBA seasons with the Lakers (1958-72), with the first two coming in Minneapolis before the team moved West. He averaged 27.4 points, 13.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game and was an 11-time All-Star, a 10-time first-team All-NBA selection and the 1958-59 Rookie of the Year. 

His best statistical season came in 1961-62, when he averaged a whopping 38.3 points and 18.6 rebounds per game. He was one of his generation's most innovative players, bringing a high-flying style later emulated by players like Julius Erving, Michael Jordan and many of today's wing players in an era when centers dominated. 

"As a shooter, as a dribbler, Elgin Baylor had no match," NBA legend Oscar Robertson once said of Baylor, per Mike Kupper of the Los Angeles Times. "The greatest game I ever saw was a Los Angeles playoff game in Boston when the Celtics double-teamed Elgin and Jerry West, and Elgin still scored about 60 points [it was 61]."

He was also an influential figure in the Civil Rights Movement:

And while he never won an NBA title, he would have had he not decided to end his playing career in the 1971-72 season:

After his playing career, Baylor worked as an assistant coach and then head coach (1976-79) for the New Orleans Jazz, leading them to an 86-135 record.

He was hired by the Los Angeles Clippers as the team's vice president of basketball operations in 1986 and spent 22 seasons in the role. 

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