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Hall of Fame basketball player Elgin Baylor, one of the great NBA stars of the 1960s, died peacefully of natural causes surrounded by his wife and daughter, the Lakers announced Monday. He was 86.
An 11-time All-Star who was the 1958-59 Rookie of the Year as the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, Baylor spent his entire career in the Lakers organization, including two seasons in Minneapolis before the team moved to Los Angeles. He and Bill Russell were on opposite sides of the first installment of the great Lakers-Celtics rivalry.
Baylor later coached the New Orleans Jazz and spent 22 years as an executive for the Clippers. A statue of Baylor was unveiled outside the Staples Center – the shared home of the Lakers and Clippers – in 2018. The basketball court at Seattle University bears his name.
Baylor still holds the record for points in an NBA Finals game (62). He is one of only six players responsible for the 10 games in history with 70 or more points, as he dropped a then-record 71 on Nov. 15, 1960.
“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. On behalf of the entire Lakers family, I’d like to send my thoughts, prayers and condolences to [wife] Eliane and the Baylor family.”
Baylor was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1997.
“Elgin was the love of my life and my best friend,” Baylor’s wife Elaine said in a statement. “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.”
Funeral arrangements are pending.
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