© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Sports Heritage Award winners honored during the halftime break of an NBA match between Memphis Grizzlies and Indiana Pacers in Memphis
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Former Minneapolis and Los Angeles Lakers striker Elgin Baylor died of natural causes at the age of 86 on Monday, the NBA franchise announced.
Baylor, 1958’s draft selection and Rookie of the year 1959, has spent 14 seasons with the Lakers. He was honored in the Hall of Fame and considered one of the greatest players to ever win.
A talented shooter and reflex athlete despite having a 6 ft 5 frame, Baylor still holds the record for the most individual points in a match at the NBA Finals, scoring 61 points against his legendary rival. Lakers, Boston Celtics, 1962.
“Elgin is the love of my life and my best friend. And like everyone else, I admire his courage, immense dignity and the time he spends with all of you.” fan, “Elaine’s wife said in a statement.
Baylor’s No. 22 jersey has been retired and hung from the Staples Center raft while the 11-time NBA All-Star champion has been immortalized in a statue placed outside the gymnasium.
“Elgin was the superstar of his time, so much of his praise speaks for itself,” said Lakers Governor Jeanie Buss.
“He’s one of the few Lakers players whose career spanned from Minneapolis to Los Angeles.
“But more importantly, he’s a very upright guy, even serving his country as a backup for the US Army, often playing only for the Lakers during the weekend.”
After retiring, Baylor coached the New Orleans Jazz before being hired as general manager of the Los Angeles Clippers, spending 22 years in that role.
“The NBA’s first high-flying RIP, Lakers legend and Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor,” former Lakers guard and former team chairman Magic Johnson wrote on Twitter.
“Before Michael Jordan did these amazing things in the air, there was Elgin Baylor.”
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