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The basketball world has lost yet another one of its trailblazing stars in Elgin Baylor, a scoring and rebounding machine despite having the build of today’s wing players. Baylor played for the Minneapolis and Los Angeles Lakers for 14 seasons before becoming a coach and an executive.
Elgin Baylor was born September 16, 1934, in Washington, D.C., becoming a star player in the city in his senior year at Spingarn High School. Nicknamed Rabbit, Baylor was surrounded by basketball by way of two older brothers, and that tutelage would go on to serve him well during his collegiate career at the College of Idaho and Seattle University ahead of his professional career.
Baylor was selected No. 1 overall by the Minneapolis Lakers in the 1958 NBA Draft and was credited by Minneapolis owner Bob Short for saving the floundering franchise ahead of the team moving to Los Angeles. A mixture of power and grace, Baylor was a high-scoring guard with moves for days on the court and even was performing Eurostep maneuvers before they became popular in today’s high-flying game.
Across his 14 seasons, Baylor made the NBA All-Star team 11 times, and the All-NBA First Team selection 10 times. He was also the NBA Rookie of the Year in 1959. Baylor was also named to the NBA’s 35th and 50th-anniversary teams due to his weighty achievements.
After his playing days were behind him, Baylor was named an assistant coach for the Utah Jazz and later head coach, retiring from the bench in 1979. In 1986, Baylor was hired as the Los Angeles Clippers’s Vice President of Basketball Operations. Baylor was named the NBA Executive of the Year in 2006, the same year he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Fans of the NBA on Twitter are sharing their condolences and memories of the late, great Elgin Baylor. We’ve got those reactions below.
∙ 11x All-Star
∙ 10x First Team All-NBA
∙ All-Star Game MVP (1959)
∙ Rookie of the Year (1958-59)
∙ No. 22 retired by Lakers
“Elgin Baylor was Michael Jordan before Michael Jordan.”
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) March 22, 2021
Jerry West’s emotional speech on the dedication of Elgin Baylor’s statue in LA. It’s worth listening to because you will understand a lot more about Baylor … and West.https://t.co/rLslNE9kP4
— Bob Hertzel (@bhertzel) March 22, 2021
Lakers Legend Elgin Baylor Dead At 86, #NBATwitter Shows Respect
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elgin baylor laid the foundation for how the modern nba wing plays. he will be missed but his influence will live forever. rip pic.twitter.com/Mux6ZSIGyh
— Logan Murdock (@loganmmurdock) March 22, 2021
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
One of the greatest players to ever come out of Washington, D.C.
Our thoughts are with Elgin Baylor’s family and loved ones. pic.twitter.com/PuiVWwg7qP
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) March 22, 2021
The Lakers just announced the very sad news that Elgin Baylor –basketball’s original rim-attacking, gravity-defying superstar — has died at age 86. https://t.co/TyWpo67R1O
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) March 22, 2021
NBA and Lakers legend Elgin Baylor has passed away from natural causes at age of 86, team says.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 22, 2021
Rest In Peace Elgin Baylor, the original slashing forward who paved the way for guys like Dr. J, David Thompson, Michael Jordan and more.
— 𝐇 𝐨 𝐨 𝐩 𝐕 𝐞 𝐧 𝐮 𝐞 (@KGsGOAT) March 22, 2021
Rip to the legend Elgin Baylor! 🙏🏾🙏🏾
— Keef Morris (@Keefmorris) March 22, 2021
Elgin Baylor was the bridge between the Minneapolis and L.A. Lakers, an incredible talent who played 14 seasons for the Lakers, and made the All-NBA 1st Team a remarkable 10 times. The Hall of Famer was critical to establishing a culture of winning. All thoughts go to his family. https://t.co/ht1Vux220W
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) March 22, 2021
One of the wildest things about Elgin Baylor’s DRAMATICALLY UNDERRATED career is he never won a ring because he wasn’t willing to not be great. He walked away during the Lakers’ 71-72 championship season because he wasn’t playing up to his own standards.
— Benjamin Hoffman (@BenHoffmanNYT) March 22, 2021
In 61-62 Elgin Baylor averaged 38 points, 19 rebounds and five assists while on active duty w the army, playing w the Lakers on weekends. legendary stuff. the best player who never won a chip.
— jason c. (@netw3rk) March 22, 2021
“Personally, I’d like to thank you because I’ve stole so many of your moves, it’s not even funny.” – Kobe Bryant to Elgin Baylor in 2018. Elgin truly was THAT great. RIP to a legend. (Via @RyanWardLA) pic.twitter.com/EYJxGS7rmc
— Shahan Ahmed (@shahanLA) March 22, 2021