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Remembering Elgin Baylor

March 22, 2021

Clearly ahead of his time and a truly classy basketball great, Elgin Baylor, who died at age 86, was one of the sports greatest players, arguably the best forward of all-time.

He was so much more than a still record 61 points in an NBA final round game or the 71 points, he scored in one game, attended by a young then Lew Alcindor, vs the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

I will post what I wrote and read again recently, when Jim McMillian, who replaced Elgin in the Lakers’ starting lineup, died in May 2016.

Elgin made the greatest of his many great moves then, as he retired, opening the door for “Jimmy Mac.”

Despite the great play of Elgin and Jerry West, the Lakers were denied so many times by great Boston Celtics’ teams in NBA final round play.

After Elgin retired, the Lakers reeled off a still major North American sports league record 33 straight wins and eventually won their first L.A. crown.

I loved that Lakers’ team (I stopped rooting for them, or any team, 30 plus years ago) and bought “The Fabulous Lakers,” a fine book, written by Merv Harris.

In it I read that after the title clinching win, Elgin was in the Lakers’ locker room, but not actively participating in the long awaited celebration.

Someone, perhaps, even probably, coach Bill Sharman approached Elgin, reminding him, “you were a part of this also!”

He was and so much more of basketball history. The pendulum has swung so far in favor of the gifted, but who really needs them, players.

I hope they are grateful to the previous greats, such as Elgin Baylor, who again was a big part of what made basketball great, at least back in long ago, “then.”

I cite Elgin’s greatest, of many great “moves” in my tribute to Jim McMillian. 

 

 

Pictured left to right above,  Jamaal Wilkes, who two days earlier hit for 37 points (Earvin “Magic” had 42) as the Lakers won their second L.A. NBA crown, Andy B. and Elgin at the “Victory Party” 

Informed I had come from New York and that I “loved” the Lakers, their owner, Dr. Jerry Buss said “sure come on in” to that party.

In life and certainly broadcasting, I was not “let in.” Elgin never quite won a title, but seeing him that day and recalling his greatness and kindness, leaves me a lot better, than if I had not met him.

 

 

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