Elgin Baylor is one of the greatest shooters, scorers and passers the game has ever seen. With his spinning moves he dazzled the Lakers fans and kept them wanting for more.
He was the first basketball player to finish in the top five in four different statistical categories (scoring, rebounding, assists, and free-throw percentage). Born in 1934, the name was given to him by his father. His father John, had a favorite watch called “Elgin” and that’s how it happened.
Minneapolis Lakers had the first pick in the 1958 NBA draft and of course they picked the gracing Elgin Baylor. In his first year, he averaged 24.9 points per game and eventually became the Rookie Of The Year.He was the first basketball player to finish in the top five in four different statistical categories (scoring, rebounding, assists, and free-throw percentage). Born in 1934, the name was given to him by his father. His father John, had a favorite watch called “Elgin” and that’s how it happened.
That was an amazing accomplishment because the Lakers were the last team the previous year and the year when he entered the league they reached the NBA finals and lost from Boston Celtics in the finals. Only Magic Johnson can come close to that. The following seasons he just kept getting better and better. Stacking records on top of each other.
From scoring 71 points (now 8th highest in history) which was the record at the time to scoring 61 points in the NBA finals which is still a record today.
Sadly, the problems for him started to appear from 1963 with those knee problems. After 1963 he was a very strong player but was never quite the same player as many teammates and coaches could notice back then.
He never averaged more than 30 points per game any more. After he retired in 1972, two big ironic things happened. The Lakers went on to win 33 consecutive games and they won a NBA championship that year. Something that, very very sadly, he never knew how it felt like.
Elgin will always remain one of the few players who could score easily but gracefully. His signature shot will always be the running bank shot.
Many players say that if they had to use only one word to describe Elgin that would be “Unstoppable”. Period. His fancy moves above the rim have never been seen before and he played above the rim.
He couldn’t jump as high as Michael Jordan but he could somehow manipulate the ball so easily and change the direction where he was going while going in the air. That was stunning and something that no one knew how to deal with. Baylor could even handle taller players easily. Opponents back then knew that he had 1000 moves up his sleeve and they wouldn’t know what to expect.
He pretty much paved the way for players like Connie Hawkins, Julius Erving, and Michael Jordan.
Jerry West once said.. “I hear people talking about forwards today and I haven’t seen many that can compare with him.” In the SLAM magazine, he was ranked number 11 out of 75 best, all-time NBA players. And of course in 1996 he was chosen as one of the 50 greatest players in the world.