Elgin Baylor, the Lakers’ Corridor of Fame ahead who grew to become one of many 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 loss of life, at a hospital, was introduced on Twitter by the Lakers. The workforce didn’t specify a trigger.
In his 14 seasons with the Lakers, first in Minneapolis however largely in Los Angeles, with one other pair of Corridor 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 quick for a ahead even then — however he performed above the rim when he soared towards the basket. His skill to twist and switch in midair on his approach 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 College, the professionals normally scored on one-handed set pictures or working hooks. Baylor added a brand new dimension.
“You could not stop Elgin from driving to the basket,” the Corridor 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 may muscle his approach 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. workforce 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 recreation for 3 consecutive seasons within the early Sixties.
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 workforce. He performed in eight N.B.A. ultimate collection, however the Lakers misplaced seven instances to the Celtics within the Invoice Russell period after which to the Knicks in a memorable Sport 7 at Madison Sq. Backyard in 1970.
He was elected to the Basketball Corridor of Fame in 1977.
However Baylor had little success when he turned to teaching and front-office positions. He coached three shedding groups with the New Orleans Jazz (now the Utah Jazz) within the Seventies and later spent 22 largely irritating seasons as the final supervisor of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Within the days when the N.B.A.’s TV protection was restricted, Baylor had by no means considered a professional recreation 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 suppose he was setting off in a single course solely to seek 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 Homosexual Baylor was born in Washington on Sept. 16, 1934. He was a highschool basketball star, then performed for one season on the Faculty of Idaho and two seasons at Seattle College, main his workforce as a senior to the 1958 N.C.A.A. event ultimate, a loss to Kentucky.
The Minneapolis Lakers chosen Baylor because the league’s total No. 1 decide within the 1958 draft. He took them to the 1959 N.B.A. ultimate collection, the place he averaged almost 25 factors a recreation in a shedding trigger, the Lakers being swept by the Celtics. He was named rookie of the 12 months.
The Lakers moved to Los Angeles in 1960, the 12 months West arrived to offer an out of doors recreation to go along with Baylor’s all-around abilities.
Baylor was finally hampered by knee surgical procedure that diminished his spring, however he remained an offensive power. He retired after his accidents restricted him to 2 video games in 1970-71 and simply 9 on 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 27.4 factors and 13.5 rebounds for his profession and performed in 11 All-Star Video games.
He was fired because the Jazz coach in 1979. He grew to become the pinnacle 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 2008-9 season opened. The Clippers mentioned he had resigned, however he filed a lawsuit sustaining that he had been fired because of age discrimination. A jury determined within the Clippers’ favor, concluding that he had misplaced his job due to the workforce’s poor showings.
In response to the Lakers announcement, he’s survived by his spouse, Elaine (Cunningham) Baylor; their daughter, Krystle; two youngsters from a earlier marriage, Alan and Alison; and a sister, Gladys Baylor Barrett.
Lengthy after Baylor’s enjoying days ended, his status endured.
Tom Heinsohn, the Corridor 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 Hen. “He had the total game: defense, offense, everything, rebounding, passing the ball.” (Heinsohn died in November at 86.)
Invoice Sharman, the Celtics’ sharpshooting guard who coached Baylor in his temporary, ultimate season, was much more succinct, telling The Los Angeles Occasions again then, “Elgin Baylor is the greatest cornerman who ever played pro basketball.”
Alex Traub contributed reporting.