) Hall of Famer regarded by many as one of the best forward
s as all-time. Due to playing for the wrong team and at the wrong time, never won a scoring title nor an NBA championship. Many saw his creativity with the ball as a precursor to Julius Erving
and Michael Jordan
Baylor (DOB: 8/16/1934; Washington, DC) started college at the College of Idaho, before transferring to Seattle University. He became an All-American, and helped lead Seattle to the 1958 NCAA championship game (where they lost to Kentucky). The Minneapolis Lakers took Baylor first overall in the 1958 NBA draft.
In his rookie season (1958-1959), Baylor scored 24.9 points per game (4th in the league), 15.0 rebounds per game (3rd in the league) and was named league Rookie of the Year. Baylor was also named an All-Star and scored 24 points in the All-Star Game, sharing game MVP honors with Bob Pettit. His Lakers team was a horrible 19-53 the year before Baylor's arrival. However, the Lakers with Baylor improved to 33-39, and a playoff berth. The surprising Lakers advanced all the way to the NBA Finals, before being swept by Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics.
Baylor improved to 29.6 points per game (3rd in the NBA) his second season, and 34.8 points per game (2nd in the league) in his third season (1960-1961), but the Lakers fell in the playoffs both times. Between Elgin's second and third seasons, the Lakers moved from Minneapolis to Los Angeles (where they still play). On November 15, 1960, Baylor lit up the New York Knicks for 71 points, which was an NBA record (since broken 6 times, including 5 times by Wilt Chamberlain).
The 1961-1962 season was perhaps Baylor's best chance at an NBA title. However, Russell's Celtics denied Baylor's Lakers again, winning the title in overtime of the decisive 7th game. Baylor scored an NBA playoff record 61 points in Game 5 of the Finals (which still remains an NBA Finals record, close to 40 years later). Baylor scored a career high 38.3 points per game, but also missed half the season due to military service.
The next year was more of the same, as Baylor and Jerry West led the Lakers to the NBA Finals, only to lose to those pesky Celtics in 6 games.
Baylor's Lakers would make the NBA Finals a total of 8 times in his 14 year career, remarkably losing all 8 (7 times to Red Auerbach's Celtics dynasty and in 1969-1970 to the New York Knicks).
Baylor had knee problems through most of his career, which limited him to just 2 games in 1970-1971, and 9 in 1971-1972, leading Baylor to retire, ending his 14 year career without a championship. As one may expect, Jerry West and the Lakers went on to win the 1971-1972 NBA title.
Elgin Baylor also never won a league scoring title, having the misfortune of his prime coinciding with that of Wilt Chamberlain.
In 14 seasons, Baylor scored 23149 points (at the time, 3rd all-time; 27.4 per game), and added 11463 rebounds (13.5 per game). He was an All-Star 11 times.
Baylor was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1976. That same year, he became the head coach of the New Orleans Jazz. Despite having future Hall of Famer Pete Maravich on his team, the Jazz were a poor 86-135 in his 2 1/2 seasons in charge (according to several nba.com biographies; 86-134 according to "The Official NBA Encyclopedia", 3rd edition), before stepping down in 1979.
Since 1986, Baylor has been a part of the Los Angeles Clippers front office.
In 1996, Baylor was chosen by the NBA as one of The 50 Greatest Players in NBA History.
In 1999, ESPN's SportsCentury named Baylor #58 on their list of the 100 greatest North American athletes of the 20th century.