Lakers unveil statue of Elgin Baylor outside Staples Center
Alex Vejar | Associated Press
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Lakers unveiled a statue of Elgin Baylor before Friday night’s home game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Baylor’s statue became the sixth that decorates the front of Staples Center, joining Shaquille O’Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Jerry West and Chick Hearn.
“I certainly appreciate all the wonderful things people have said about me,” Baylor said. “But without the wonderful teammates, (this) certainly wouldn’t have been possible. I’d just like to thank my teammates.”
The Lakers selected Baylor first overall in the 1958 NBA draft. He averaged 27.4 points and 13.5 rebounds in 14 seasons for the franchise, including the first two when it played in Minneapolis.
Various Lakers alumni spoke during Baylor’s ceremony, including O’Neal, Johnson, West and Abdul-Jabbar. Johnson said Baylor put entertainment into the NBA, and will always remember that Baylor set the Finals record for single-game points against the Boston Celtics on the road.
“You did some things that Dr. J, Michael Jordan, Kobe (Bryant), myself, we couldn’t do,” Johnson said. “I tried to do it. I just couldn’t hang that long in the air.”
Bryant provided his message to Baylor via video.
“I’ve stole so many of your moves, it’s not even funny,” Bryant said.
West held back tears when speaking about the friendship between him and Baylor. The two played together in Los Angeles.
“This is one of the greatest men I’ve ever met in my life,” West said. Baylor was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1977. He made the NBA All-Star team 11 times, and won the All-Star Game MVP Award in 1958-59, the same year he was Rookie of the Year.
Baylor was named to the All-NBA First Team 10 times in his career, and holds the all-time record for most points in an NBA Finals game (61).
Baylor was the first player in NBA history to score more than 70 points in a game. He scored 71 against the New York Knicks on Nov. 15, 1960.