Elgin Baylor, the Lakers’ Hall of Fame ahead who grew to become one of the N.B.A.’s biggest gamers, displaying acrobatic brilliance that foreshadowed the athleticism of later generations of stars, died on Monday in Los Angeles. He was 86.
His demise was introduced on Twitter by the Lakers. The group didn’t specify a trigger.
In his 14 seasons with the Lakers, first in Minneapolis however principally in Los Angeles, with one other pair of Hall of Famers, Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain, as teammates, Baylor performed with a artistic flourish that had by no means been seen in professional basketball.
He was solely 6 toes 5 inches — comparatively brief for a ahead even then — however he performed above the rim when he soared towards the basket. His capacity to twist and switch in midair on his strategy to the ring previewed the freewheeling exhibits placed on by stars like Julius Erving, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and LeBron James.
When Baylor arrived within the N.B.A. in 1958, an All-American out of Seattle University, the professionals often scored on one-handed set pictures or operating hooks. Baylor added a brand new dimension.
“You could not stop Elgin from driving to the basket,” the Hall of Fame guard Oscar Robertson recalled in his autobiography “The Big O” (2010), including, “You sure couldn’t out-jump him, or hang in the air any longer than he did.”
“Elgin,” Robertson wrote, “was the first and original high flier.”
Baylor’s sturdy 225-pound body complemented his finesse. He might muscle his strategy to the basket, and he adopted up his missed pictures by maneuvering to attain over greater gamers. He was additionally an excellent rebounder and passer.
Baylor was voted to the all-N.B.A. group for the league’s first 50 years. He was a 10-time N.B.A. first-team All-Star choice and averaged greater than 30 factors a sport for 3 consecutive seasons within the early 1960s.
He set a league document by scoring 64 factors towards the Boston Celtics in November 1959, then scored 71 towards the Knicks in November 1960, solely to see Chamberlain rating 100 factors for the Philadelphia Warriors towards the Knicks in March 1962.
Baylor joined with West and later with Chamberlain to show the Lakers right into a glamour group. He performed in eight N.B.A. last sequence, however the Lakers misplaced seven instances to the Celtics within the Bill Russell period after which to the Knicks in a memorable Game 7 at Madison Square Garden in 1970.
He was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1977.
But Baylor had little success when he turned to teaching and front-office positions. He coached three dropping groups with the New Orleans Jazz (now the Utah Jazz) within the 1970s and later spent 22 principally irritating seasons as the final supervisor of the Los Angeles Clippers.
In the times when the N.B.A.’s TV protection was restricted, Baylor had by no means seen a professional sport earlier than he performed in a single.
“I had never seen anyone else do my moves,” he advised Terry Pluto within the N.B.A. oral historical past “Tall Tales” (1992). “It starts with talent; you have to be able to jump. But more than that, things I did were spontaneous. I had the ball, I reacted to the defense.”
And he had a nervous facial twitch that generally made defenders assume he was setting off in a single route solely to search out him heading the opposite approach.
As the middle Johnny Kerr put it, “You didn’t know if it was a head fake or what was going on.”
Elgin Gay Baylor was born in Washington on Sept. 16, 1934. He was a highschool basketball star, then performed for one season at the College of Idaho and two seasons at Seattle University, main his group as a senior to the 1958 N.C.A.A. event last, a loss to Kentucky.
The Minneapolis Lakers chosen Baylor because the league’s general No. 1 choose within the 1958 draft. He took them to the 1959 N.B.A. last sequence, the place he averaged almost 25 factors a sport in a dropping trigger, the Lakers being swept by the Celtics. He was named rookie of the yr.
The Lakers moved to Los Angeles in 1960, the yr West arrived to offer an out of doors sport to go together with Baylor’s all-around abilities.
Baylor was ultimately hampered by knee surgical procedure that diminished his spring, however he remained an offensive drive. He retired after his accidents restricted him to 2 video games in 1970-71 and simply 9 at the outset of the 1971-72 season, when the Lakers went on to defeat the Knicks for the championship.
“Winning that championship was marred for me by the sad, conspicuous absence of Elgin Baylor,” West recalled in his memoir “West by West” (2011), written with Jonathan Coleman. “The guy that shared all the blood, sweat and tears wasn’t there to realize what it felt like.”
Baylor averaged 27.four factors and 13.5 rebounds for his profession and performed in 11 All-Star Games.
He was fired because the Jazz coach in 1979. He grew to become the top of basketball operations for the Clippers, primarily their normal supervisor, in 1986.
The Clippers made the playoffs solely 4 instances in Baylor’s tenure, which ended earlier than the 2008-09 season opened. The Clippers mentioned he had resigned, however he filed a lawsuit sustaining that he had been fired consequently of age discrimination. A jury determined within the Clippers’ favor, concluding that he had misplaced his job as a result of of the group’s poor showings.
According to the Lakers announcement, he’s survived by his spouse, Elaine; a daughter, Krystal; two youngsters from a earlier marriage, Alan and Alison; and a sister, Gladys Baylor Barrett.
Long after Baylor’s taking part in days ended, his popularity endured.
Tom Heinsohn, the Hall of Fame ahead on Celtic groups that bested Baylor’s Lakers, marveled at his feats.
“Elgin Baylor as forward beats out Bird, Julius Erving and everybody else,” Heinsohn advised Roland Lazenby in his biography “Jerry West.” (2009), referring to the Celtics’ Larry Bird. “He had the total game: defense, offense, everything, rebounding, passing the ball.” (Heinsohn died in November at 86.)
Bill Sharman, the Celtics’ sharpshooting guard who coached Baylor in his transient, last season, was much more succinct, telling The Los Angeles Times again then, “Elgin Baylor is the greatest cornerman who ever played pro basketball.”