NBA legend Elgin Baylor has passed away of natural causes, the Lakers announced on Monday. Baylor was 86, and was with his wife Elaine and his daughter Krystal when he passed.
Baylor was a Hall of Fame player, earning 11 All-Star nods and 10 first-team all-NBA selections in his 13-plus seasons. He has a statue outside of Staples Center for his contributions to the Lakers, but he had a full second act as an executive with the Clippers.
He was hired as the team’s vice president of basketball operations in 1986 and remained in that role until 2008. He was the first Clipper to win Executive of the Year in 2006, the year the Clippers won their first playoff series in Los Angeles and were one game away from the conference finals. Lawrence Frank became the second executive to win that honor in 2020, as those Clippers suffered a similar fate in the playoffs.
Baylor’s NBA life was also noteworthy for his challenges to the existing racial status quo. He once refused to play in a game in Minnesota because he and two Black teammates were not allowed to stay in the same hotel as the rest of the Lakers.
Elgin Baylor once sat out a game because a hotel wouldn’t let him and his Black teammates stay there.— Anthony F. Irwin (@AnthonyIrwinLA) March 22, 2021
This is what was written about that decision at the time. (https://t.co/G592BhqFQE)
Baylor’s life on and off the court was marred by racism and he stared it down at every turn. pic.twitter.com/7yNSY5OmNk
Baylor also filed a lawsuit against Donald Sterling after his tenure with the Clippers was over for employment discrimination, alleging that he was underpaid and fired because of his race. He lost the case, but Baylor was among the first to warn the public of Sterling’s racism within the Clippers organization. He continued to support current players in their quests for social justice in the later years of his life.
Elgin Baylor was an absolute icon and a star when the league needed it. He will be missed.