The Los Angeles Lakers lost one of their most legendary players on Monday when it was announced that Elgin Baylor had passed away at the age of 86. In 14 seasons, Baylor put together a remarkable career, landing him in the Hall of Fame and atop many statistical leaderboards.
He spent his entire career with the Lakers, both in Minneapolis and L.A., and was the first superstar in the city the Lakers now call home. Even today, nearly 50 years removed from Baylor’s last game, the Lakers organization cherishes his contributions and celebrates him with a statue and Staples Center, as well as a retired jersey in the rafters.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel spoke about the impact of Baylor on the game of basketball and the Lakers. “It’s a sad day to hear that news,” Vogel said. “One of the all-time great Lakers. One of the all-time greats of the NBA that this game has ever seen. Obviously, our thoughts and prays go out to Elaine and his family.
“He was just one of the original midair acrobats. The creativity that he showed in his game is something that many spoke of and you have someone like Dr. J saying that he used to emulate Elgin and his mid-air moves. I think that speaks volumes and he’s just going to be missed by the entire Lakers community and NBA community.”
Due to the lack of footage during Baylor’s era, many don’t understand just how much of the game of basketball today stemmed from moves created by Baylor. Vogel remembered his father telling him about Baylor’s skillset. “I do remember my father who played the game talking about Elgin [Baylor].”
“When I was little, he was working with the [Los Angeles] Clippers in the front office and whatnot. He would always make sure that he would point a guy like Elgin out and say, ‘Do you know anything about him? How good of a player he was?’ So I remember him pointing out that out to me.”
Against the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday, the Lakers chose to wear their city uniforms that were designed and inspired by Baylor and the early Lakers teams. On Thursday when the Lakers play their first home game since his death, there will likely be some form of tribute as well.
Schroder says James’ presence means a lot during injury
One thing that has defined the Lakers franchise is their remarkable star power. It started with Baylor and has continued all the way through today with LeBron James. While he sits out with injury, Dennis Schroder was happy to see him on the sideline in their first game afterwards.
“It tells me that he cares about this organization,” Schroder said. “In my career, I’ve seen people get hurt and don’t come on the road trip and for him being the best who ever played this game, that you see him on the bench being there even if he’s hurt means a lot.”
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