Elgin Baylor Rumors
Whenever Elgin Baylor played, people stopped what they were doing and watched. That refrain appears throughout the new young adult book “Above the Rim: How Elgin Baylor Changed Basketball.” Author Jennifer Bryant and illustrator Frank Morrison spoke with “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom to discuss the book about the award-winning NBA player.
In 1959, a West Virginia hotel and local restaurants refused to serve Baylor and his African American teammates. As a way of protest, Baylor decided to boycott the game on Jan. 16, 1959, in Charleston, West Virginia. “He was a rookie NBA player, and, in those days, the NBA only had eight teams. It was fascinating to imagine the kind of travel and lives that they had, and they didn’t have a really big fan base. But Elgin was really the star of the team [Minneapolis Lakers], but he was turned away at the hotel when they got to West Virginia. That was enough. He said, ‘They can’t just let me out of a cage like an animal to play the game and not treat me like a human being the rest of the time,’” said Bryant.
Nevertheless, if we look at just top statistical postseason tandems for any two teammates and not just those who won championships, James and Davis still rank at No. 9 overall, behind two different versions of Jerry West and Elgin Baylor (from 1961-62 and 1960-61) and four duos that featured Wilt Chamberlain when he was at his absolute peak, plus the aforementioned Shaq and Kobe and Kareem and Magic partnerships. In fairness to the old-school duos, particularly to the ones led by Bill Russell and Chamberlain after him, the NBA didn’t start recording blocks or steals until 1973-74, so they could have ranked even higher if not for that.
Justin Kubatko: LeBron James is the oldest player to record a triple-double in an NBA Finals game (age in years-days): 35-286 James (tonight) 35-225 Elgin Baylor (1970 G3) 33-158 James (2018 G3) 32-161 James (2017 G4) 32-156 James (2017 G2)
Ohm Youngmisuk: LeBron James finished with 28 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists in Game 4. He now has 24 career 25-point, 10-rebound games in the Finals. That passes Elgin Baylor for most in NBA Finals history according to Elias Sports Bureau.
Justin Kubatko: LeBron James and Anthony Davis have each scored at least 25 points in the same game 10 times in the 2020 NBA playoffs. They are just the third duo to reach that mark in a single postseason, joining Kevin Durant & Russell Westbrook (3x) and Elgin Baylor & Jerry West (1962).
Davis’ 34 points put him in the company of all-time Lakers greats like Shaquille O’Neal, George Mikan and Elgin Baylor for most points in a finals debut, further entrenching Davis with the tradition-rich franchise. “To be in that category is definitely a huge honor for me,” Davis said. “What makes it even more sweeter is winning it. And so obviously that’s a great honor, but I also want to be mentioned in categories with champions. So that’s the next step.”