Los Angeles, March 23 (IANS) Elgin Baylor, the Los Angeles Lakers’ first superstar and among the first in then emerging National Basketball Association (NBA), and a fixture on the L.A. basketball scene for the better part of half a century, has died of natural causes.
Baylor, who coached briefly after his Hall of Fame 14-season playing career ended, then had a 22-year run as an executive with L.A.’s other NBA team, the Clippers, died Monday morning, the Lakers announced on Twitter. He was 86, DPA news reports
“Elgin was THE superstar of his era — his many accolades speak to that,” Lakers president Jeanie Buss tweeted.
An undersized power forward at 6-foot-5, Baylor dazzled with a variety of athletic moves that often left defenders flat-footed as he sailed by for one of his signature running bank shots or pulled up for a hanging jump shot.
Richie Guerin of the New York Knicks once griped, “Elgin Baylor has either got three hands or two basketballs out there. It’s like guarding a flood.”
Baylor is survived by his wife, Elaine, their daughter Krystle and a son Alan, and daughter Alison, from a previous marriage.
“As a shooter, as a dribbler, Elgin Baylor had no match. 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 (61) points,” said Oscar Robertson, a contemporary of Baylor and himself no stranger to NBA stardom.
A 10-time All-NBA first team selection and 11-time All-Star, Baylor was elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1977. Although primarily a scorer, he was nonetheless a complete player, finishing his career with 23,149 points, 3,650 assists and 11,463 rebounds in 846 games, all with the Lakers in Minneapolis and Los Angeles.
He scored a then-record 71 points against the New York Knicks during a regular-season game in 1960, and his 61-point game against the Celtics in Game 5 in 1962 still stands as an NBA Finals individual record.