Elgin Gay Baylor is a famous professional basketball player, coach as well as and executive. He was best known for his trademark hanging jump shot; he was popular for being an accomplished and skilled shooter, rebounder, and passer. He is the No.1 draft pick in 1958, NBA Rookie of the Year in 1959, 11-time NBA All-Star, and a 10-time member of the All-NBA first team. He got immense popularity in the 1960s with a high-scoring style of basketball. He played 14 seasons as a forward in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Minneapolis or Los Angeles Lakers. He also appeared in eight NBA Finals.
He was 6 feet 5 inches tall, and he is a role model for modern players. His net worth is nearly $60 million. Let’s know about him more, including his early life, career, his achievements.
Elgin Baylor’s Early Life
Elgin Baylor was born on September 16, 1934, in Washington DC. Baylor had limited access to basketball courts growing up because he grew up near a D.C. city recreation center where the government banned African Americans from using the facilities. Baylor was a three-time All-City player in high school, along with his two basketball-playing brothers, Sal and Kermit. In the first two years of high school, he played in 1951 and 1895 sessions. At the time, public schools in Washington, D.C. were set apart, so he could only compete with black school teams.
He was able to set his scoring record of 44 points against Cardozo H.S. During his two years, he scored an average of 18.5 and 27.6 points per season. He dropped out of studies, as he wasn’t good at it, and took a job in a furniture shop and, on the other hand, continued with basketball. He was the first African-American player in the team where he reappeared as a senior next year. As the area’s best basketball player for 1954, he won SSA’s Living Stone Trophy. In 1954, he played another match with his old Phelps team; he scored 63 points and was able to establish a new record in DC-area.
The previous person who held the record was Jim Wexler, from West with 52 points. As Jim was white, and Baylor was black, the media did not give him enough credits or never got media coverage like Jim. Yet, he was a lot appreciated by people who saw him, and everyone saw potential in him.
His Career as a Basketball Player
As basketball was always his first priority, so he never paid too much attention in studies. But a friend of his arranged a scholarship for him, and he could also play basketball there. But unfortunately, after some time, the school dismissed the head basketball coach and restricted any kind of scholarships. Then Baylor went to Seattle University, and in the first season, he scored an average of 29.7 points per game and 20.3 rebounds per game. In the next season, he scored an average of 32.5 points per game. These records led him to the NCAA championship game.
Baylor got chosen by the Minneapolis Lakers as the No. 1 pick in the 1958 NBA Draft. He got the offer the previous time yet decided not to join it. But this time, he decided to join NBA. Over three collegiate seasons, Baylor was able to score an average of 31.3 points per game and 19.5 rebounds per game. He also led NCAA in rebounds in 1956–57, and he played for Seattle University for fifty-one years. They renamed its court in 2009 after his name to honor him.
After he left Seattle university, he joined NBC art, getting selected. One year before Baylor’s arrival, the Lakers finished and retired at 19–53 with a slow and aging squad, and their franchise was dying. But Baylor, with his amazing and brilliant athlete skills, saved the entire franchise. Because without him, the club would go bankrupt.
From 1960–61 to the 1962–63 seasons, he scored 34.8, 38.3, and 34.0 points per game in his middle years. He scored 71 points with 25 rebounds and set a new NBA scoring record. Baylor also broke his own NBA record of the previous session by scoring 64 points. He played for the Lakers only when on a weekend pass. During his career, he led the Lakers to NBA finals seven more times. The greatest rivalry in NBA history was when Baylor lost a four-game sweep in the finals against the Boston Celtics.
He scored over 1,800 points by playing only 48 games during 1961-1962. Baylor got 22 rebounds at the finals and set another record of the still-standing highest NBA scores in an NBA Finals game with 61.
Unfortunately, in 1965, he got severely injured in his knee, and he couldn’t perform his best, yet scored above 30 points per game. He played just two games in 1970-71. He retired in 1971-72 because of his never-ending knee problems. He missed two great achievements that year, for his retirement, as the Lakers’ next game after his retirement was the first of an NBA-record 33 consecutive wins, followed by the victory of the NBA championship that same season. Though he had retired that year, The Lakers awarded him a 1972 championship ring for all his hard work and dedication.
Elgin Baylor’s Awards and Achievements
In 1954, he was a senior at Spingarn High School in Washington DC. In 1985, he was the most outstanding player of NCAA men’s basketball tournament as SU, lost at 84-72 to Kentucky. In 1959 he received the NBA Rookie of the Year award. He also received NBA All-Star Game Co-MVP with Bob Pettit, St. Louis Hawks in the same year. He scored 71 points against New York Knicks in 1960. In 1962 he scored 61 points against Boston Celtics, holding a still record for most points in an NBA Finals game. In 1977, he was consecrated in the Basketball Hall of Fame.
In 1980 he was named to NBA’s 35th Anniversary Team, and in 1996, he was named to NBA’s 50th Anniversary Team. In 2006, he won the NBA Executive of the Year Award.
He had a signature running bank shot, where he could easily dodge the tall players, which led him to many more achievements and NBA scoring records. retirement-In 1960, Baylor set the record of scoring 71 points, which Kobe Bryant broke in 2006 by scoring 81 points. Yet his 61 points scored in Game 5 of the NBA Finals in 1962 is still a record.
His growing popularity resulted in his appearance in various television series, like “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In” in 1968, the Jackson Five’s first TV special in 1971, a Buck Rogers in the 25th Century episode “Olympiad.”
And also at an episode of The White Shadow titled “If Your Number’s Up, Get Down.”
His Life After Retirement as a Player
After his retirement, Baylor was hired as the assistant coach and later the head coach for the New Orleans Jazz. He retired from it in 1979. Then, he joined as the team’s vice president of basketball operations for the Los Angeles Clippers. He spends the next 22 years of his life as the vice-president and retired in October 2008, when he was 74 years old. He also won NBA executive of the year in 2006. During his presentation, the Clippers won two seasons and one playoff series.
In 2009, he filed employment discrimination against the Clippers, the team owner Donald Sterling, team president Andy Roeser, and the NBA. He claimed that he was underpaid and received discrimination for his race and color, and was also fired for being black. He had to drop his racial discrimination cases, and also the court rejected his other accusations.
Elgin Baylor’s Death
Baylor died at the age of 86, on March 22, 2021, in Los Angeles, California having his wife Elaine, daughter, Krystal, and son Alan by his side. He died due to natural causes, and his death was announced by The Lakers on Twitter.
Elgin Baylor’s Net Worth
He is considered one of the game’s greatest forwards. His style of playing and his achievements still shine bright. He was the person who saved the Lakers and is responsible for bringing NBA to LA. His biography was published in a book. And writer Bob Ryan described him as the most influential individual offensive player of the last 60 years. He is an underrated player in NBA and had to face discrimination because of his color. He is known as the man who changed basketball. His contribution in the field of sports is undeniable and unforgettable.
His net worth is estimated to be $60 million.