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Who is Elgin Baylor, The Legendary Forward Who Defined Lakers Basketball?

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Elgin Gay Baylor was an American professional basketball player, coach, and executive with a career portrait of a player who redefined the small forward position and left an undeniable mark on the NBA.

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Elgin Baylor, a name synonymous with elegance, athleticism, and a heart-wrenching championship drought, was a true giant of the game. His career was a captivating mix of individual brilliance and agonizing near-misses.

Elgin Baylor/ Image Credits: Britannica

His Early Life, Education, and College Career

Elgin Gay Baylor was born on September 16, 1934, in Washington, D.C., United States. Elgin Gay Baylor wasn’t initially drawn to basketball. However, following in the footsteps of his older brothers, he picked up the sport and displayed a natural talent.

Baylor’s love for basketball blossomed during his high school years. He attended Phelps High School and later transferred to Spingarn High School in Washington, D.C, where he dominated the court, earning All-Met honors and establishing himself as a local phenom. His towering height of 6 feet 5 inches made him stand out, and he quickly became a local sensation.

Earning a scholarship, Baylor continued his basketball journey at the College of Idaho (1954–1955) and then transferred to the University of Seattle (1956–1958). His graceful style enabled him to score and rebound with seeming ease. He thrived under the tutelage of legendary coach Jack Rohan, leading the Chieftains to the 1958 NCAA championship game, where they fell to Kentucky.

Elgin Baylor/ Image Credits: People

At Seattle, he left an indelible mark and became a consensus first-team All-American in 1958. He became the first player ever to average a double-double (points and rebounds) for an entire season.

His Professional Career, Rings, Accolades, and Finals Record

The 1958 NBA draft was a pivotal moment for both Baylor and the Minneapolis Lakers (who would soon relocate to Los Angeles). The Lakers, yearning for a championship contender, selected Baylor with the first overall pick.

In 1958, the Minneapolis Lakers selected Baylor as the No. 1 draft pick in the NBA. His impact on the court was immediate, and he would go on to play 14 seasons as a forward for the Los Angeles Lakers after their move from Minneapolis.

Baylor was a gifted shooter, a strong rebounder, and an accomplished passer. His trademark hanging jump shot left defenders baffled. His style was both elegant and effective. In 1959, Baylor was named the NBA Rookie of the Year, setting the stage for a remarkable career.

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Baylor was selected to play in 11 NBA All-Star games and was a 10-time member of the All-NBA first team. His consistency and skill made him one of the game’s all-time greatest players. Although Baylor’s Lakers faced tough competition, they secured NBA championships in 1959, 1960, and 1962. His performances in the NBA Finals were nothing short of spectacular.

Elgin Baylor/ Image Credits: NBA

While the championship eluded him, Baylor’s individual achievements are nothing short of legendary. A 10-time All-NBA First Team selection and 11-time NBA All-Star, he was named to the NBA 35th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1980, the NBA 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1996 and the NBA 75th Anniversary Team in 2021.

In 1977, he rightfully earned his place in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, solidifying his place as one of the greatest players never to win a championship. In 2009, SLAM Magazine ranked him number 11 among its Top 50 NBA players of all time.

In 2022, to commemorate the NBA’s 75th Anniversary The Athletic ranked their top 75 players of all time, and named Baylor as the 23rd greatest player in NBA history.

His Coaching and Executive Career

After retiring as a player, Baylor transitioned to coaching. From 1974 to 1976, he served as an assistant coach for the New Orleans Jazz. In 1974, he even took on the role of interim head coach. Baylor’s basketball acumen extended beyond coaching.

He spent an impressive 22 years as the general manager of the Los Angeles Clippers during the majority of the Donald Sterling ownership period. His leadership and strategic decisions left a lasting impact. In 2006, Baylor was recognized as the NBA Executive of the Year for his contributions to the Clippers organization.

Elgin Baylor/ Image Credits: Blackpast

His Family, Personal Life, and Facts: Parents, Wife, Children, Age, and Height

Elgin Baylor preferred a private life outside of basketball. He had a wife Elaine and their daughter Krystle, alongside two children from a previous marriage, Alan and Alison. He passed away at the age of 86 years old on March 22, 2021, in Los Angeles, California, United States.

His Net Worth

As per sources, Baylor had a net worth of around $60 million at the time of his death. While specific details about Elgin Baylor’s net worth are not widely available, his legacy transcends monetary value. His impact on the game, both as a player and an executive, remains immeasurable.





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