NBA Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor died at 86 on Monday, according to the Los Angeles Lakers.
He died of natural causes, according to CNN. He played for the Lakers for 14 seasons and was an All-Star 11 times. Only two men in NBA history, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain, averaged more points per game. Baylor once held the single-game regular-season scoring record with 71 points.
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“Elgin was the love of my life and my best friend,” his wife, Elaine, said in a statement provided by the team. “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.” Baylor died with Elaine and his daughter, Krystal, by his side
In the 1961-62 season he was active in the Army, stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington. According to the Army, he used his weekend passes to play for the Lakers and averaged more than 38 points and almost 19 rebounds per game in 48 contests. Baylor was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1977. His Hall of Fame biography describes Baylor as “the first athlete to play above the rim, paving the way for future leapers like Connie Hawkins, Julius Erving, and Michael Jordan.”
He played with the Lakers his entire career, including two seasons when the franchise was still based in Minneapolis. “Elgin was THE superstar of his era — his many accolades speak to that,” said Lakers owner Jeanie Buss. “He was one of the few Lakers players whose career spanned from Minneapolis to Los Angeles. But more importantly he was a man of great integrity.” The Lakers retired his No. 22 jersey in 1983.
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