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DreamShaker
10-08-2008, 03:05 PM
On his game:


Elgin came into a league where guys shot running jump hooks and one-handed set shots. Teams routinely took 115 shots a game and made less than 40 percent of them. Nobody played above the rim except Russell; nobody dunked, and everyone played the same way: Rebound, run the floor, get a quick shot. Quantity over quality. That's what worked. Or so they thought. Because Elgin changed everything. He did things that nobody had ever seen before. He defied gravity. Elgin would drive from the left side, take off with the basketball, elevate, hang in the air, hang in the air, then release the ball after everyone else was already back on the ground. You could call him the godfather of hang time. You could call him the godfather of the "WOW!" play. You could point to his entrance into the league as the precise moment when basketball changed for the better. Along with Russell, Elgin turned a horizontal game into a vertical one.

It's impossible to fully capture Elgin's greatness five decades after the fact, but let's try. He averaged 25 points and 15 rebounds and carried the Lakers to the Finals as a rookie. He scored 71 points against Wilt's Warriors in his second season. He averaged 34.8 points and 19.8 rebounds in his third season -- as a 6-foot-5 forward, no less -- and topped himself the following year with the most amazing accomplishment in NBA history. During the 1961-62 season, Elgin played only 48 games -- all on weekends, all without practicing -- and somehow averaged 38 points, 19 rebounds and five assists a game.

Why was this better than Wilt's 50 per game or Oscar's season-long triple-double? Because the guy didn't practice! He was moonlighting as an NBA player on weekends! Wilt's 50 makes sense considering the feeble competition and his gratuitous ball-hogging. Oscar's triple-double makes sense considering the style of play at the time -- tons of points, tons of missed shots, tons of available rebounds But Elgin's 38-19-5 makes no sense whatsoever. I don't see how this happened. It's inconceivable. A U.S. Army Reservist at the time, Elgin lived in a barracks in the state of Washington, leaving only whenever they gave him a weekend pass ... and even with that pass, he could only fly coach on flights with multiple connections to meet the Lakers wherever they happened to be playing. Once he arrived, he would throw on a uniform and battle the best NBA players alive on back-to-back nights -- fortunately for the Lakers, most games were scheduled on the weekends back then -- and make the same complicated trip back to Washington on Sunday night or Monday morning. That was his life for five months.


Funny story about Mike Dunleavy:


When I filmed last December's "E:60" piece about shooting a half-court shot at a Clippers game, their organization had been splintered into three camps -- Elgin's camp, coach Mike Dunleavy's camp, and the camp run by owner Donald Sterling and team president Andy Roeser -- with the three sides uneasily coexisting like oil, water, and whatever would uneasily coexist with oil and water. I knew there was a festering problem when Dunleavy and I had a good-natured shooting contest for $100 and I ended up winning. We were on camera, and I forgot to collect. Dunleavy disappeared. Elgin quickly limped over looking like he had just seen an old lady get mugged.

"He never paid you, did he?" Elgin whispered.

I shook my head no. Elgin made a face.

"That's typical," he hissed.
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Elgin Baylor

AP Photo/Gus Ruelas

Baylor's mediocre career as a GM overshadows his accomplishments as one of the league's best players.

When Elgin gets mad, he stammers a little. So the next few words came out like this: "And you-you-you know what else? He went first, but after you made your shot, he-he-he made it seem like he had last shot. Did you catch that?"

"I caught it," I said. "I thought it was funny that he cheated."

On his legacy:


Elgin ended up leaving the Clippers on the same day Barack Obama took part in his second presidential debate. The two events weren't related at all. Or so it seemed. On his final night in the NBA, his friends with the Clippers called him and e-mailed him to say goodbye. None of them heard back from him. Elgin Baylor was gone and didn't want to be found. Fifty years, gone in a flash. For the most underappreciated superstar in NBA history, it couldn't have ended any other way.

To read the whole shebang: http://proxy.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/081008

GregOden#1
10-08-2008, 03:15 PM
I dont understand how Simmons can claim Wilt played inferior competition at C (and this in a time when great centers were at a premium, unlike any other time in NBA history) and not use that to explain Elgin's season? In the 60s the SF position was the second weakest next to only the PF (the weakest position in NBA history) so it's not like Elgin was being guarded by HOFers nightly like Wilt, Oscar, Bill and West were...

DreamShaker
10-08-2008, 04:01 PM
I dont understand how Simmons can claim Wilt played inferior competition at C (and this in a time when great centers were at a premium, unlike any other time in NBA history) and not use that to explain Elgin's season? In the 60s the SF position was the second weakest next to only the PF (the weakest position in NBA history) so it's not like Elgin was being guarded by HOFers nightly like Wilt, Oscar, Bill and West were...

Simmons is better at being funny and passionate than he is at making solid basketball opinions on some things.....

Wilson
10-08-2008, 04:12 PM
Still, it's a cool article. I'm not old enough to have seen anything from that era, but I've still tried to learn about it, so it's quite cool when stuff like this comes out giving props to the guys who shaped the game.

Frank Costanza
10-08-2008, 05:02 PM
great read, bravo

DreamShaker
10-08-2008, 06:02 PM
Still, it's a cool article. I'm not old enough to have seen anything from that era, but I've still tried to learn about it, so it's quite cool when stuff like this comes out giving props to the guys who shaped the game.

Lol I don't think any of us are old enough to remember it live....me and Oden were both born in the 80's he's just watched crazy amounts of tapes and studied the game....just like me except for me I have seen less:shrug:

Wilson
10-08-2008, 06:16 PM
Lol I don't think any of us are old enough to remember it live....me and Oden were both born in the 80's he's just watched crazy amounts of tapes and studied the game....just like me except for me I have seen less:shrug:

:laugh2: Yeah come to think of it, I don't think there are many 60 yr olds on PSD.

Lakersfan2483
10-08-2008, 06:22 PM
Good Article. Baylor was one of the greatest all time.

Hawkeye15
10-08-2008, 11:04 PM
Still, it's a cool article. I'm not old enough to have seen anything from that era, but I've still tried to learn about it, so it's quite cool when stuff like this comes out giving props to the guys who shaped the game.

agreed. Great player. I know nothing from my own eyes before 1985, so all we can do it read, and watch ESPN Classic