Elgin Baylor was the most recent Los Angeles Lakers legend to get a statue in front of Staples Center, and the person who most think will be next to join him, Kobe Bryant, had some kind words for Baylor on the day of the ceremony.
Baylor was immortalized in bronze alongside fellow Lakers legends Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Chick Hearn, Jerry West and Shaquille O’Neal. Baylor previously was honored by the franchise with the retirement of his No. 22 jersey.
While Bryant couldn’t be there in person to congratulate Baylor, he prerecorded a message for the Hall-of-Famer in which he revealed that some of his game is patterned after the NBA’s first uber-athletic, attacking wing, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“What you have done for the city of Los Angeles, for this organization, goes beyond words. Personally, I stole so many moves from you, it’s not even funny. That rocker-step, that changing to the rocker-step, the hesitation. The elevating to the basket, the putting your shoulder into the big and finishing with contact. I got all that from you my brother, and I hope this generation of understands that that doesn’t come from me. It doesn’t come from Jordan. That comes from players like yourself, and thank you so much for everything you’ve done, and much much love to you.”
Bryant definitely had a fair amount of success emulating Baylor’s moves and those of others, enough success that he already has had both of his jersey number retired and will almost surely be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
All of that wouldn’t have been possible without players like Baylor breaking the mold for what teams thought wing players could do, and Bryant is right to show gratitude to one of the game’s first greats.
If Baylor hadn’t blazed the trail, there’s no telling how different basketball would be today.
— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) April 7, 2018