Elgin Baylor, a former Los Angeles Lakers star who was also a longtime general manager of the Los Angeles Clippers, died on Monday. He was 86 years old. The Lakers announced that Baylor died of natural causes and was surrounded by his wife, Elaine and his daughter, Krystal, at the time of his death.
"Elgin was the love of my life and my best friend," Elaine said in the statement per ESPN. "And like everyone else, I was in awe of his immense courage, dignity and the time he gave to all fans. At this time we ask that I and our family be allowed to mourn his passing in privacy."
Elgin Baylor: Forever part of our Lakers Family. pic.twitter.com/zcRhVUSSmx— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) March 22, 2021
Baylor began his NBA career in 1958 when he was selected by the Minneapolis Lakers (the team moved to Los Angeles in 1960) No. 1 overall. He became one of the best forwards in the game, being named an All-Star 11 times as well as being selected to the All-NBA team 10 times. He made an instant impact with the Lakers, winning Rookie of the Year after posting 27.4 points and 13.5 rebounds per game during the 1958-59 season. The only thing Baylor wasn't able to do was win an NBA Championship. He helped the Lakers reach the NBA Finals eight times in his career but lost to the Boston Celtics on three different occasions.
"Elgin was THE superstar of his era -- his many accolades speak to that," Lakers owner Jeanie Buss said in a statement. "He was one of the few Lakers players whose career spanned from Minneapolis to Los Angeles. But more importantly he was a man of great integrity, even serving his country as a U.S. Army reservist, often playing for the Lakers only during his weekend pass. He is one of the all-time Lakers greats with his No. 22 jersey retired in the rafters and his statue standing guard in front of STAPLES Center. He will always be part of the Lakers legacy."
Baylor retired from the NBA in the 1971-72 season due to knee issues. It was that season when the Lakers defeated the New York Knicks in the NBA Finals. Baylor went on the coach the New Orleans Jazz for three seasons (1976-79) before becoming the general manager of the Clippers from 1986 to 2009. During his tenure with the Clippers, Baylor was named NBA Executive of the Year in 2005-06 when the team won 47 games and reached the Western Conference semifinals.