(Los Angeles) Elgin Baylor, who was voted 11 times to the NBA All-Star Team with the Minnesota and Los Angeles Lakers and who revolutionized his sport with his dramatic style, died Monday. He was 86 years old.
Lakers executives announced that Baylor died of natural causes in Los Angeles, with his wife, Elaine, and daughter Krystal by his side.
With his elegantly released suspended shots and fluid athleticism, Baylor has been instrumental in transforming basketball from a predominantly ground sport to an air show.
He wore the Lakers uniform, first in Minnesota for two seasons, from 1958 to 1960, then in Los Angeles - after the team moved to California - until 1971.
During the 1960s, Baylor and Jerry West formed one of the most prolific tandems in basketball history.
“Elgin was THE super star of his time; her many honors bear witness to it, ”said Jeanie Buss, governor of the Lakers, in a statement announcing the death of Baylor.
His second career as a team leader was less successful. He worked for the Los Angeles Clippers organization from 1986 to 2008. After his departure, he sued owner Donald Sterling and the NBA, accusing them of discrimination based on age and race.
Baylor, a six-foot-five athlete, played during a time when basketball had less visibility on the small screen, and little of his play footage was filmed.
Those who saw him play in person, including West, who had called him "one of the most spectacular shooters the world has ever seen", are best placed to talk about his style. .
Baylor had the incredible skill of hanging in the air indefinitely, inventing a shot along the way as his head nodded all over the place.
Many years before Julius Erving and Michael Jordan became international superstars thanks to a similar acrobatic style, Baylor was the architect of the modern day superstar.
Baylor rose above the majority of rivals of his day, but never won a playoff championship or earned the top scorer title. Much of this is due to the fact that he played alongside Bill Russell, who racked up championship rings with the Boston Celtics, and Wilt Chamberlain, who scooped top scoring titles year after year.
Knee injuries have bored Baylor for most of the second half of his career, although he managed to make his way to the NBA all-star teams.
West and Baylor formed the first of several dynamic duos for the Los Angeles Lakers. They were followed by Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the 1980s, before Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal won three championships in the 2000s.
However, the Baylor Lakers lost six times in the final to the Celtics and once again to the New York Knicks. The Lakers won the championship in 1971-72, but Baylor announced his retirement after playing nine games during the season.
Baylor arrived in the NBA in 1958 as the first draft pick, after graduating from Seattle University. He immediately set new standards for points per game, with a performance of 55 points in his rookie season.
He became the first player to have a game over 70 points, recording 71 points against the New York Knicks on November 15, 1960. Chamberlain set the record 100 points in a game in 1962.