This Day In Lakers History: Jerry West, Elgin Baylor Clinch Berth In NBA Finals
Manny Rubio-USA TODAY Sports

The early days of the Los Angeles Lakers were led by one of the best duos in NBA history, Elgin Baylor and Jerry West. Both are two of the greatest players to ever step foot in the league and their games complimented each other very well.

Baylor is considered the first player to really play above the rim, and he was liable to put up video-game numbers on any given night. As for West, he’s the logo of the league, which speaks for itself.

The two were always on a quest to get over that hump and win an NBA championship, but there were plenty of impressive nights along the way, including on April 3, 1962. West and Baylor sent the Lakers to the NBA Finals, each dropping 38 points in a 123-117 win over the Detroit Pistons.

As a result, L.A. took the series 4-2. Baylor also added 22 rebounds on the night as the Lakers advanced to their first Finals since moving to Los Angeles.

Both were outstanding throughout the series. Baylor averaged 36.3 points and 17.5 rebounds while West also averaged 31.8 points and the Pistons simply couldn’t keep up with the two stars. Detroit had a balanced attack as eight players averaged double-figure scoring in the series, but when the two best players in the series wear purple and gold, nothing else matters.

West and Baylor also got help from Frank Selvy and Rudy LaRusso who gave the Lakers a couple of secondary scoring options while doing some of the dirty work as well.

Unfortunately we know the ending to this story. The Lakers would come up just short in the NBA Finals, losing in seven games to the Boston Celtics, but that should do nothing to take away from the greatness of the players in this era of the purple and gold.

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