A month ago, the Los Angeles Lakers were all celebrating the jersey retirement of Kobe Bryant. Tuesday, Jan. 16, the Lakers announced that they will honor another Lakers great this spring.
That Lakers great is Elgin Baylor. Baylor was in attendance for Bryant’s ceremony as he was for Shaquille O’Neal’s and Jerry West’s statues.
Baylor will become the 10th person, and fifth Lakers player, to receive the honor. Baylor joins O’Neal, West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson.
Mark your calendars Lakers fans, April 6th before the Lakers’ game against the Minnesota Timberwolves is when we are expected to see the unveiling of Baylor’s statue.
Baylor was one of the original Los Angeles Lakers, as he was with the team in 1960 during their move from Minneapolis. He spent his entire 14-year-career with the Lakers.
During his time with the Lakers, he ranked in the team’s all-time top five in points, minutes, and field goals. He currently has a franchise’s high 11,463 rebounds.
Baylor wears No. 22 with the Lakers and the jersey has been retired by the franchise. Baylor averaged 27.4 points and 13.5 rebounds over the course of his career.
The former No. 1 draft pick in 1958 won the NBA Rookie of the Year in 1959. He was an 11-time NBA All-Star, and one of the game’s all-time greatest players. In 1977, Baylor was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
As a rookie in 1958–59, Baylor finished fourth in the league in scoring with 24.9 points per game and third in rebounding with 15.0 rebounds per game.
Along with winning Rookie of the Year, Baylor led the Lakers from last place the year before to the NBA finals, where they lost to the Boston Celtics, creating the greatest rivalry in the history of the NBA. Baylor and the Lakers would make it to the NBA Finals seven more times but came out empty each time.
Baylor had a career high of 71 points while grabbing 25 rebounds. He retired nine games into the 1971-72 season because of his nagging knee problems. Ironically, that was the season where the Lakers’ went on to win 33 consecutive games and make a run all the way to the NBA Finals which they won.
Although Baylor never won an NBA championship, this statue is long overdue. The Lakers have already retired his jersey, and the final way to honor him would be with a statue of his own.
Baylor is an 11-time NBA All-Star, winning Co-MVP in 1959. He holds the NBA Finals single-game record for most points (61) against the Boston Celtics. He finished his career scoring 23,149 points in only 846 games.
Baylor recognizes that a shrinking number of fans are old enough to remember his playing days, so I hope that this article helps you remember how great Elgin Baylor was as an NBA player.