Elgin Baylor, who played for the Minneapolis and Los Angeles Lakers during his illustrious 14-year career, has died. He was 86 years old.
“Elgin was the love of my life and my best friend,” Elaine said in a statement. “And like everyone else, I was in awe of his immense courage, dignity, and the time he gave to all fans. At this time we ask that I and our family be allowed to mourn his passing in privacy.”
As one of the greatest players in NBA history, Baylor’s resume was immense. During his 14 seasons with the Lakers, beginning in 1958 until his retirement in 1971 due to knee injuries, he was named to the NBA’s All-Star team 11 times and was an All-NBA selection 10 times.
“Elgin was THE superstar of his era—his many accolades speak to that. He was one of the few Lakers players whose career spanned from Minneapolis to Los Angeles,” Lakers owner Jeanie Buss said in a statement. “But more importantly, he was a man of great integrity, even serving his country as a U.S. Army reservist, often playing for the Lakers only during his weekend pass. He is one of the all-time Lakers greats with his No. 22 jersey retired in the rafters and his statue standing guard in front of Staples Center. He will always be part of the Lakers legacy. On behalf of the entire Lakers family, I’d like to send my thoughts, prayers and condolences to Elaine and the Baylor family.”
Following his playing career, Baylor went on to coach the New Orleans Jazz for three seasons (from 1976-79) before joining the Clippers in 1986, where he served as Vice President of Basketball Operations under disgraced former owner Donald Sterling until 2008.
In 1977, Baylor was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The Lakers retired his No. 22 jersey years later in 1983, and the organization immortalized him forever with a statue outside of Staples Center in 2018.
On Twitter, the basketball community honored his memory:
Baylor is survived by his wife, Elaine; his daughters, Krystal and Alison; his son, Alan; and sister, Gladys Baylor Barrett.
Rest in power, King.