As Laker fans, we have been fortunate enough to marvel at the scoring exploits of Kobe Bryant for years. When he dropped 81 points in 2006, it was something that no one had ever seen before. Older Laker fans however, just laugh and remember Laker great Elgin Baylor, a scorer far ahead of his time.
Baylor is one of the NBA’s true forgotten superstars, and in 1961, only his second year in the league, Baylor would have one of the finest games in the history of the NBA. On November 15, 1960 Baylor would step foot on Madison Square Garden and set an NBA record with 71 points in the Lakers’ 123-108 victory over the Knicks. To round out the impressive performance, Baylor also grabbed 25 rebounds that night.
What makes Baylor’s record so impressive is the fact that there were no three-pointers at that point in the NBA. Bryant hit seven three-pointers in his 81 point performance, so imagine what Baylor’s number could have been had he been able to take advantage of the three-point line during this game.
Perhaps the best compliment about Baylor’s performance on this night came from former Knick Johnny Green who, as he told Hoop Magazine, was not surprised in the least bit:
Elgin did nothing unusual in that game. It was just a typical Baylor performance. He just came down the floor, his teammates would clear out an area, and he’d shoot — a jump shot or a driving layup, followed up by a rebound if he missed. Each particular shot had nothing amazing about it. It was just that Elgin was such an amazing player
Wilt Chamberlain would break Baylor’s record four times the next season, in what was a recurring theme throughout his career. Chamberlain’s gargantuan numbers overshadowed Baylor, Bill Russell’s dominance prevented him from winning an NBA Championship, but on one November night, Elgin Baylor let it be known that his talent was unparalleled in the NBA.
On this Throwback Thursday, we remember Elgin Baylor for his outstanding scoring night in 1960.
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