Elgin Baylor is one of the greatest players ever. Really, he is. He was a dominant scorer and rebounder from the small forward position and revolutionized the game through his athleticism and shot making. However, I only know this because of what I’ve read as sadly I’m a bit too young to have ever seen Elgin Baylor play in a game. And since his games weren’t on television (at least not a lot of them) or the film of those games isn’t easily accessible by the average fan, it’s hard for fans that never saw him (or have only seen bits and pieces) to really know how innovative and ahead of his time Baylor truly was. Plus, without a legendary season or unfathomable statistical single game performance (think Oscar’s triple double season or Wilt’s 100 point contest) or the championships to solidify a legacy (like Russell’s 11 rings or even West’s single trip to the mountain top) Baylor doesn’t live on in the collective memory of a lot of fans. But he should.
If you’d like to read up on Baylor, you can start with this epic piece by Bill Simmons from 2008. Or you can check out Roland Lazenby asking if Baylor should be considered the all-time playoff MVP even though he never won a championship (he was that good). Or you can read about how the “flash” of the modern game started with Elgin and see what recent players have carried the torch of the style that originated with #22. Actually, do yourself a favor and give them all a read and remember one of the NBA’s all timers and surely one of the best Lakers ever. And, since this is the best I could find also check out the video below that shows just how Elgin played the game in his era. Understand that while some of the moves you see below seem pretty routine when using today’s standards, it’s because Baylor was the first player doing them. Enjoy.