Elgin Baylor

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Elgin Baylor
No. 22
Small forward / Power forward
Personal information
Born(1934-09-16) September 16, 1934 (age 80)
Washington, D.C.
NationalityAmerican
Listed height6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Listed weight225 lb (102 kg)
Career information
High schoolSpingarn (Washington, D.C.)
CollegeCollege of Idaho (1954–1955)
Seattle (1956–1958)
NBA draft1958 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1st overall
Selected by the Minneapolis Lakers
Pro career1958–1971
Career history
As player:
19581971Minneapolis / Los Angeles Lakers
As coach:
1974New Orleans Jazz
19761979New Orleans Jazz
Career highlights and awards

As player:

As executive:

Career statistics
Points23,149 (27.4 ppg)
Rebounds11,463 (13.5 rpg)
Assists3,650 (4.6 apg)
Stats at Basketball-Reference.com
Basketball Hall of Fame as player
 
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Elgin Baylor
No. 22
Small forward / Power forward
Personal information
Born(1934-09-16) September 16, 1934 (age 80)
Washington, D.C.
NationalityAmerican
Listed height6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Listed weight225 lb (102 kg)
Career information
High schoolSpingarn (Washington, D.C.)
CollegeCollege of Idaho (1954–1955)
Seattle (1956–1958)
NBA draft1958 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1st overall
Selected by the Minneapolis Lakers
Pro career1958–1971
Career history
As player:
19581971Minneapolis / Los Angeles Lakers
As coach:
1974New Orleans Jazz
19761979New Orleans Jazz
Career highlights and awards

As player:

As executive:

Career statistics
Points23,149 (27.4 ppg)
Rebounds11,463 (13.5 rpg)
Assists3,650 (4.6 apg)
Stats at Basketball-Reference.com
Basketball Hall of Fame as player

Elgin Gay Baylor (born September 16, 1934) is a retired American basketball player, coach, and executive. He played 13 seasons as a forward in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Minneapolis / Los Angeles Lakers, appearing in eight NBA Finals. Baylor was a gifted shooter, strong rebounder, and an accomplished passer. Renowned for his acrobatic maneuvers on the court, Baylor regularly dazzled Lakers fans with his trademark hanging jump shots. The No. 1 draft pick in 1958, NBA Rookie of the Year in 1959, and an 11-time NBA All-Star, he is regarded as one of the game's all-time greatest players.[1] In 1977, Baylor was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.[2]

Baylor spent 22 years as general manager of the Los Angeles Clippers. He won the NBA Executive of the Year Award in 2006, before being relieved of his duties shortly before the 2008–09 season began.[3]

He had a special appearance in the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (TV series) episode Olympiad, as one of the athletes.

Early life in D.C.[edit]

Elgin "Rabbit" Baylor had two basketball-playing brothers, Sal and Kermit. After stints at Southwest Boys Club and Brown Jr. High, Baylor was a 3 time All City player in High School. Elgin played his first 2 years at Phelps in the '51 and '52 basketball seasons where he set his first area scoring record of 44 points vs Cardozo. During his 2 All City years at Phelps he averaged 18.5 and 27.6 points per season. He did not perform well academically and dropped out of school ('52-'53) to work in a furniture store and to play basketball in the local recreational leagues. Baylor reappeared for the '54 season playing for the newly opened Spingarn High School and the 6'5, 190 lb senior was named 1st team All Met and won the SSA's Livingstone Trophy as the Area's Best Basketball player for 1954. He finished with a 36.1 average for his 8 Interhigh Division II league games. On Feb 3, 1954 in a game against his old Phelps team, he scored 31 in the first half. Playing with 4 fouls the entire second half, Baylor scored 32 more points to establish a new DC area record with 63 points. This broke the point record of 52 that Western's Jim Wexler had set the year before when he broke Rabbit's record of 44 .

College career[edit]

An inadequate scholastic record kept him out of college until a friend arranged a scholarship at the College of Idaho, where he was expected to play basketball and football. After one season, the school dismissed the head basketball coach and restricted the scholarships. A Seattle car dealer interested Baylor in Seattle University, and Baylor sat out a year to play for Westside Ford, an AAU team in Seattle, while establishing eligibility at Seattle.[4]

Baylor led the Seattle Chieftains (now known as the Redhawks) to the NCAA championship game in 1958, falling to the Kentucky Wildcats, Seattle's last trip to the Final Four. Following his junior season, Baylor joined the Minneapolis Lakers in 1958.

In his three collegiate seasons, one at Idaho and two at Seattle, Baylor averaged 31.3 points per game. He led the NCAA in rebounds during the 1956-57 season.[4] Baylor is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.

NBA player[edit]

The Minneapolis Lakers used the No. 1 overall pick in the 1958 NBA Draft to select Baylor, then convinced him to skip his senior year at SU and instead join the pro ranks. The team, several years removed from its glory days of George Mikan, was in trouble on the court and at the gate. The year prior to Baylor's arrival the Lakers finished 19-53 with a squad that was slow, bulky and aging. Baylor, whom the Lakers signed to play for $20,000 per year (a great amount of money at the time), was the franchise's last shot at survival.

With his superb athletic talents and all-round game, Baylor was seen as the kind of player who could save a franchise, and he did. According to Minneapolis Lakers owner Bob Short in a 1971 interview with the Los Angeles Times: "If he had turned me down then, I would have been out of business. The club would have gone bankrupt."

Rookie of the Year[edit]

As a rookie in 1958-59, Baylor finished fourth in the league in scoring (24.9 points per game), third in rebounding (15.0 rebounds per game), and eighth in assists (4.1 assists per game). He registered 55 points in a single game, then the third-highest mark in league history behind Joe Fulks' 63 and Mikan's 61. Baylor won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award and led the Lakers from last place the previous year to the NBA finals, where they lost to the Boston Celtics in the first four game sweep in finals history. Thus began the greatest rivalry in the history of the NBA. During his career, Baylor helped lead the Lakers to the NBA Finals seven more times.

Middle years[edit]

From the 1960-61 to the 1962-63 seasons, Baylor averaged 34.8, 38.3 and 34.0 points per game, respectively. On November 15 of the 1960-61 season, Baylor set a new NBA scoring record when he scored 71 points in a victory against the New York Knicks while grabbing 25 rebounds.[5] In doing so, Baylor had broken his own NBA record of 64 points that he had set in the previous season. Baylor, a United States Army Reservist, was called to active duty during the 1961-62 season, and being stationed in Washington state, he could play for the Lakers only when on a weekend pass. Despite playing only 48 games during the 1961–62 season, he still managed to score over 1,800 points. Later that season, in a game five NBA Finals victory against the Boston Celtics, Baylor grabbed 22 rebounds and set the still-standing NBA record for points in an NBA Finals game with 61.

Baylor began to be hampered with knee problems during the 1963-64 season. The problems culminated in a severe knee injury, suffered during the 1965 Western Division playoffs. Baylor, while still a very powerful force, was never quite the same, never again averaging above 30 points per game.

Retirement[edit]

Baylor finally retired nine games into the 1971-72 season because of his nagging knee problems. The timing of his retirement could not have been worse as this caused him to coincidentally miss two great achievements. First, the Lakers' next game after his retirement was the first of an NBA record of 33 consecutive wins.[6] Second, the Lakers went on to win the NBA championship that season. The Lakers did give Baylor a championship ring, even though he had not been an active player.[7]

Career achievements and legacy[edit]

Baylor was the last of the great undersized forwards in a league where many guards are now his size or bigger. He finished his playing days with 23,149 points, 3,650 assists and 11,463 rebounds over 846 games. His signature running bank shot, which he was able to release quickly and effectively over taller players, led him to numerous NBA scoring records, several of which still stand.

The 71 points Baylor scored on November 15, 1960 was a record at the time. The 61 points he scored in game 5 of the NBA Finals in 1962 is still an NBA Finals record. An underrated rebounder, Baylor averaged 13.5 rebounds per game during his career, including a remarkable 19.8 rebounds per game during the 1960-61 season – a season average exceeded by only five other players in NBA history, all of whom were 6'9" or taller.

A 10-time All-NBA First Team selection and 11-time NBA All-Star, Baylor was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1977. He was named to the NBA 35th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1980 and the NBA 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1996. in 2009, SLAM Magazine ranked him number 11 among its Top 50 NBA players of all time. He is often listed as the greatest NBA player never to win a championship.[8][9][10]

The first biography of Elgin Baylor is being written by SLAM Online contributor Bijan C. Bayne.

Quotes from peers[edit]

NBA coach and executive[edit]

In 1974, Baylor was hired to be an assistant coach and later the head coach for the New Orleans Jazz, but had a lackluster 86–135 record and retired following the 1978–79 season. In 1986, Baylor was hired by the Los Angeles Clippers as the team's vice president of basketball operations. He stayed in that capacity for 22 years before resigning in October 2008 at the age of 74. During his tenure, the Clippers managed only two winning seasons and amassed a win-loss record of 607 and 1153. They also won only one playoff series during this time.

Baylor was selected as the NBA Executive of the Year in 2006. That year the Clippers won their first playoff series since 1976, when the franchise was located in Buffalo, New York, and named the Buffalo Braves.

In February 2009, Baylor filed an employment discrimination lawsuit against the Clippers, team owner Donald Sterling, team president Andy Roeser, and the NBA. He alleged that he was underpaid during his tenure with the team and then fired because of his age and race.[11] Baylor later dropped the racial discrimination claims in the suit.[12] Baylor's remaining claims were rejected by a Los Angeles state court jury on March 30, 2011, by a unanimous 12–0 vote.[13]

NBA highlights[edit]

Career highs[edit]

Regular season[edit]

StatHighOpponentDate
Points71at New York KnicksNovember 15, 1960
Points64vs. Boston CelticsNovember 8, 1959
Points63 (3 OT)at Philadelphia WarriorsDecember 8, 1961
Points, quarter24
Field goal percentage
Field goals made28at New York KnicksNovember 15, 1960
Field goals attempted55 (3 OT)at Philadelphia WarriorsDecember 8, 1961
Free throws made, none missed16–16vs. Syracuse NationalsNovember 5, 1960
Free throws made, one miss20–21at St. Louis HawksDecember 21, 1962
Free throws made20at St. Louis HawksDecember 21, 1962
Free throws attempted24 (3 OT)at Philadelphia WarriorsDecember 8, 1961
Rebounds31vs. Philadelphia WarriorsNovember 6, 1958
Rebounds31 (3 OT)at Philadelphia WarriorsDecember 8, 1961
Rebounds30vs. Cincinnati RoyalsJanuary 14, 1961
Assists16vs. Phoenix SunsFebruary 9, 1969
Minutes played

Playoffs[edit]

StatHighOpponentDate
Points61at Boston CelticsApril 14, 1962
Points49vs. Detroit PistonsMarch 15, 1961
Field goal percentage
Field goals made22at Boston CelticsApril 14, 1962
Field goals attempted46at Boston CelticsApril 14, 1962
Field goals attempted45at St. Louis HawksMarch 27, 1961
Free throws made, none missed15–15at St. Louis HawksMarch 26, 1960
Free throws made18at St. Louis HawksMarch 17, 1960
Free throws attempted23at St. Louis HawksMarch 17, 1960
Rebounds23vs. Boston CelticsApril 10, 1962
Rebounds23vs. Boston CelticsApril 17, 1963
Rebounds23vs. Chicago BullsMarch 24, 1968
Assists12vs. Atlanta HawksApril 20, 1969
Minutes played53 (OT)


See also[edit]

NBA[edit]

College[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]