Elgin Baylor, the Hall of Fame star who spent 14 years playing for the Minneapolis and Los Angeles Lakers, has died at 86. The Lakers released a statement about his death, which was from natural causes.
Baylor is considered one of the all-time greatest players in the history of the NBA, and a vital figure in the history of the game. Athletic and quick, his trademark hanging jump shot was part of the movement that took the NBA off the ground and lifted it into the air, where it's stayed ever since.
A Washington, D.C., native, Baylor was the No. 1 overall draft pick in 1958. That was when the Lakers were based in Minneapolis, which changed before the 1960-61 season. Over his 14-year career, which he spent entirely with the Lakers, Baylor was an All-Star 11 times, was named to the All-NBA First Team 10 times, and was the Rookie of the Year in 1959. He and the Lakers went to the finals nine times during his career, finally winning in 1972.
Baylor retired in 1972 and jumped into a coaching career just a few years later. He spent six years as an assistant and a head coach for the New Orleans Jazz before calling it quits, and then spent 22 years as vice president of basketball operations for the Los Angeles Clippers. The team went 607-1153 during his tenure, which ended acrimoniously in 2008 when he was relieved of his duties. Baylor sued the Clippers and then-owner Donald Sterling for age and race discrimination in 2009, but the suit was rejected in 2011. Just three years later, Sterling was banned from the NBA and forced to sell the Clippers after recordings of him making racist comments were released to the public.
Baylor was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1977, and his No. 22 has been retired by the Lakers. The Lakers went beyond just retiring his jersey, though. Baylor and his signature hanging jump shot were immortalized in an amazing statue outside the Staples Center in 2018.
The Clippers also released a statement on their former general manager.
A statement from Jerry West on the passing of Elgin Baylor. pic.twitter.com/JTczP8ia5I
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) March 22, 2021
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