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Happy birthday Elgin Baylor, here are a few highlights

Sep 16, 2013, 10:12 AM EDT

“Elgin Baylor as a forward beats out Bird, Julius Erving, and everybody else. A lot of people don’t remember him, but he had the total game—defense, offense, everything, rebounding, passing the ball.”
—Celtics legend Tom Heinsohn, from Roland Lazenby’s “The Show.”

When you talk about the guy whose game opened the door for Dr. J and eventually Michael Jordan and all that followed, it was Elgin Baylor. He would get the ball out at the top of the key and could blow by his defender to dunk going either way, or if you pulled back to stop the drive he would knock down the jumper. He was a gifted passer and one of the best rebounders at the three the position has seen.

You want numbers? Baylor finished his career averaging 27.4 points and 13.5 rebounds a game. He was the NBA’s Rookie of the Year, 10 time All NBA First Team, and an 11 time All Star. He is in the Hall of Fame (plus went on to coach for four years and be the Clippers GM for 22 years, but that didn’t go as well as his career).

Happy birthday to Baylor, who turns 79 today. Here is a look back at his game.

  1. tominma - Sep 16, 2013 at 10:58 AM

    I saw Baylor play. ( yup, Im old). I could easily rank him as the best small forward ever. Bird didn’t have his speed or defense. Dr. J didn’t have his defense or passing ability. You don’t become a 10 time All-Pro in the NBA without being the best. The video tells it all but I had forgotten what a great passer he was. T reason the Celtics always beat them in the Finals was because Tom Sanders would slow Baylor down a bit, KC Jones would slow down West a bit, and Russell would take away the middle. If you notice in the video, there were shots that Russell didn’t even try to block! Notice how Baylor jammed one OVER Russell. Truly a great one. and a top 5 player in history.

    Just an old man’s opinion!

  2. 00maltliquor - Sep 16, 2013 at 11:31 AM

    It’s crazy to think about how many of the games greats, just top-tier, cream of the crop talent have played for the Lakers. A top 10/ top 15 list of all time looks almost like a Laker roster. Surprised Michael Jordan never donned Purple and Gold, sheesh!

    Happy birthday Elgin. Wish I could have seen you ball live and not just on video highlights.

    Talking to all the old heads, I almost always hear them big up Jerry West. And not just Laker fans.

  3. Anoesis - Sep 16, 2013 at 12:47 PM

    When as big a Celtic homer as Heinsohn (CBS color commentator on three of the Lakers/Celtics finals in the 80s, who rarely praised any Laker) picks Baylor over Bird you know Elgin was a legitimate superstar. I was lucky enough to see him play and he really was that good.

  4. kb2408 - Sep 16, 2013 at 4:03 PM

    Dang, I sure wish I could’ve had the privilege of seeing him play.

  5. imakcds - Sep 16, 2013 at 4:28 PM

    I was just beginning to love the game at the end of Elgin’s career, but I always heard Chick say “..Baylor..Haanngg in the air…”
    I really appreciated that vid, I watched it all.
    Elg WAS a Bad Dude, body control, footwork, Magic Johnson like passes (or did Magic have Baylor like passes?), a true forerunner of the complete basketball player.

  6. badintent - Sep 17, 2013 at 12:13 AM

    He was as big as Oscar Roberson but so much faster.

  7. unsportsmenmic - Sep 17, 2013 at 8:05 PM

    Reblogged this on UnSportsMenMic and commented:
    One if not the most underrated Lakers, either him or James Worthy,of all time

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