It was a sad day in the NBA yesterday as we had to say our goodbyes to Los Angeles Lakers legend and Hall of Fame forward Elgin Baylor, who passed away at the age of 86 due to natural causes.
After being drafted with the first overall pick in the 1958 NBA Draft, Baylor’s sensational athleticism and dynamism made him a must-watch performer in an era where there were often only live spectators. As a result, and due to Baylor’s career being short by injury, Baylor has become one of the most underrated superstars despite being considered a trailblazer for the sport.
Baylor played 14 years for the Lakers franchise during his entire career, being named to 11 All-Star Games, 10 All-NBA teams and led the Lakers to eight NBA Finals appearances. The 1959 Rookie of the Year (and 1959 All-Star Game MVP), “Rabbit” received a ring for the Lakers’ championship in 1972 although he retired nine games of the season.
During his historic career, he managed to average 27.4 points, 13.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game.
Having spent 22 years with the Los Angeles Clippers franchise as the vice president of basketball operations, the Clippers family and Jerry West (Baylor’s former teammate) both released statements after his loss:
“He was one of the most gifted and special players this game will ever see and he has never gotten his just due for what he accomplished on the court… he cared for me like a father would a son,” West would write.
“I loved him like a brother.”