Elgin Baylor “Rabbit”
Elgin Baylor was drafted with the 1st pick in the 1958 NBA Draft by the Minneapolis Lakers after playing his college ball at Seattle University. He spent his entire 14-year NBA career as Laker, going down as one of their historic all-time greats. For the Lakers, he made the All-Star Game in 11 of his 14 seasons and won All-NBA First Team honors 10 times. His “Rabbit” nickname originated from his physical running and leaping abilities which helped him become the dynamic player he was.
Elgin Baylor Career Achievements:
Perhaps one of his most outstanding feats is the fact that he ranks 1st all-time in Los Angeles Lakers history when it comes to points averaged per game. The Lakers have some of the NBA’s greatest players and scorers of all-time, yet Baylor owns that record averaging 27.4 points per game. Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and even now LeBron James are amongst the Laker stars who don’t even have this high of an average and Baylor played for the Lakers for 14 seasons. That is incredible longevity. His best career scoring game is also one of the NBA’s all-time greatest single scoring performances ever. In November of 1960, Baylor put up 71 points on the New York Knicks! This was done in the era of basketball that had yet to incorporate the 3-point line as well.
He also averaged 13.5 rebounds per game for his career, another significant accomplishment. Standing at only 6’5 this is an average that very few players, if any, have been able to accomplish. This speaks to the intensity and grit that Baylor played with, he was great at establishing position and hustling in the post. His height and athleticism allowed for him to be a wonderful defender, being able to switch onto guards and forwards in any given instance and stand his ground. Weighting 225 was another element that helped him play such rigorous defense in an area of the court where typically centers roamed. He was a muscular 225 too, this made him a force in the paint on defense.
About the only accolade Baylor doesn’t have in his star-studded resume is a championship, nonetheless he still performed incredible in his playoff career. The Lakers made the playoffs every year from 1958-1970 and in this span of time, he averaged 27 points, 13 rebounds, and 4 assists.
Life After Retirement:
Baylor’s legendary #22 was retired and is now on display in the rafters of Staples Center as well as at his alma mater Seattle University. He retired in 1971, and by 1977, he was an inductee to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. After Baylor retired, he wasn’t finished with basketball though. Just 3 years after his retirement, he became the assistant coach for the New Orleans Jazz which he eventually was promoted to head coach. His coaching career was not much of a success winning wise so he made the transition to the front office. Baylor proved to excel in his front office role, becoming one of the league’s top executives for the Los Angles Clippers and even winning the 2006 award for executive of the year.
Baylor has been a gift to the world of hoops, from High School to every level above that leading all the way up to the front office, Baylor contributed and shared his knowledge of the game with the world. He was a player who helped elevate and bring awareness to the sport of basketball, he has been an elite talent at every level he’s competed at. For his career accomplishments and achievements, he was made a member of the NBA’s 35th and 50th Anniversary teams, an enormous honor. Elgin “The Rabbit” Baylor is a truly iconic and historic basketball legend and is still alive and well today at the age of 86!