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Elgin Baylor (1934–2021), Los Angeles Lakers Hall of Famer

by Linnea Crowther

Elgin Baylor was an NBA player and executive who was a superstar of the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1950s and ‘60s.

Decades in the NBA

Baylor played basketball for Seattle University, leading the team to its only Final Four appearance, in 1958. That same year, he was the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, chosen by the Lakers, who were then based in Minneapolis but about to move to Los Angeles. Baylor soon became the team’s star, finishing second in the league in scoring in his rookie year. He led a team that had been in last place to the NBA Finals, and he won the NBA Rookie of the Year award. In his 14 seasons with the Lakers, Baylor went to the NBA Finals eight times and was an 11-time All-Star. His No. 22 jersey was retired by the team, and he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1977. He is ranked among the best NBA players of all time, and some have called him the greatest NBA player who never won a championship.

Baylor coached the New Orleans Jazz for several years after his retirement as a player. He then moved on to the Los Angeles Clippers, where he was vice president of basketball operations for 22 years before his retirement in 2008. In 2006, he was named NBA Executive of the Year.

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Baylor on what it takes to be a Hall of Famer

“You have to have the ability to excel. You need pride and you need to be in right situation with the right team. When I played, I was only concerned about the shape I was in, what I was doing, not about who was guarding me or who I was playing against. It’s a question of being the best and being ready.” —from a 2013 interview with I80 Sports Blog

Tributes to Elgin Baylor

Full obituary: Los Angeles Times

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