Los Angeles Lakers star Elgin Baylor dies at 86
Hall of Fame forward followed stellar Lakers career with a decade in LA Clippers front office
LOS ANGELES — One of the pillars of the Los Angeles Lakers, perennial all star forward and NBA Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor, died March 22. He was 86.
Baylor, who went on to serve 10 years in the LA Clippers front office as general manager was surrounded by his wife, Elaine, and his daughter, Krystal, at the end according to the Los Angeles Lakers in a statement. The cause of death was listed as natural causes.
“Elgin was the love of my life and my best friend,” Elaine said in the statement. “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.”
Baylor was an 11-time All-Star and 10-time All-NBA selection during his 14 seasons with the Lakers from 1958 to 1971. He was the 1958-59 Rookie of the Year as well as the All-Star Game MVP that year. He averaged a double-double for his career, posting 27.4 points and 13.5 rebounds per game.
With the Lakers, who moved from Minneapolis to Los Angeles in 1960, Baylor made eight NBA Finals appearances but never won a title, losing seven-game series to the Boston Celtics on three occasions. He holds the single-game Finals scoring record with 61 points against the Celtics in 1962.
“Elgin was THE superstar of his era -- his many accolades speak to that,” Lakers owner Jeanie Buss said in a statement. “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.”
Stellar guard Jerry West, who was a teammate of Baylor’s on the Lakers and is now a Clippers consultant, said he loved Baylor like a brother.
“I will forever cherish my days spent with him as a teammate, he was one of the most gifted and special players that this game will ever see and he has never gotten his just due for what he accomplished on the court,” West said in a statement. “My first few years in the league he cared for me like a father would a son, he nurtured me and encouraged me like no one else had during that period of my life. We shared the joy of winning and the heartbreaking losses during the championship finals. He was a prince both on and off of the court. There are no words to describe how I feel at this time. My deepest condolences to his dear wife Elaine and his loving family, and his many fans and friends. I loved him like a brother.”
Baylor's scoring highlights also included becoming the first player to score 70 points in a game and going for 71 against the New York Knicks in November 1960. That stood as the Lakers' single-game record until Kobe Bryant scored 81 against the Toronto Raptors in January 2006.
Baylor retired early in the 1971-72 season because of knee issues. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1977.