The NBA family was dealt a blow Monday with the passing of Elgin Baylor, a legendary player and executive who lived out almost his entire professional career in Los Angeles.
A moment of silence for Elgin Baylor. pic.twitter.com/pWyhIJdHMj— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) March 23, 2021
In a statement released by the Clippers, the team called Baylor “a transcendent player, a beloved teammate, and a pioneering executive.” Perhaps no one was more familiar with Baylor the transcendent player and beloved teammate than Jerry West, who currently works as a consultant for the franchise.
West played with Baylor for 12 of his 13-plus NBA seasons, and the two formed the first dynamic duo in L.A. Ty Lue said that West was crushed by the loss of his dear friend, and West’s statement reveals the depth of their friendship. He also spoke to the L.A. Times about what Baylor meant to him.
A statement from Jerry West on the passing of Elgin Baylor. pic.twitter.com/JTczP8ia5I— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) March 22, 2021
As the third part of the team’s statement indicated, Baylor was also a pioneering executive who helped pave the way for Black executives. Baylor was the front-office leader for the Clippers for 22 years, a job he stayed with despite having to work for Donald Sterling because he was well aware of the dearth of opportunities at the executive level that existed for Black individuals.
“It’s very important when you have gentlemen like Elgin Baylor who paved the way for our Black community as far as the NBA life, and the executive life of the NBA, I think it’s very important to understand who he was and what he meant and what he stands for,” Ty Lue said Monday. “So I know a lot of guys, you know, they know who he is, they know what he’s brought and what he’s meant to the NBA, and especially for our culture.”
Keith Jones recalled how Elgin Baylor hired Jones in 1990 as the "first African American trainer in the NBA." "He gave me my chance. Elgin was a great man." Jones is now the senior VP of Basketball Operations/Head Athletic Trainer with Houston Rockets. "I loved the man."— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) March 22, 2021
Ron Harper, by Elgin Baylor in 1989, has a request for the Clippers. "The Los Angeles Clippers better retire his jersey. Yep as an executive. That should be the first one they retire."— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) March 22, 2021
The Clippers have a complicated relationship with their history because of Sterling; they don’t seem to celebrate it the same way other franchises do. But Baylor is absolutely someone who deserves to be honored and hopefully, the organization finds a way to commemorate his legacy.
More news for Tuesday:
- Bill Plaschke on Baylor’s overlooked place in history.
- Monty McCutchen on the state of NBA officiating.
- Chauncey Billups breaks down the Clippers’ ball movement.
- Tom Haberstroh explores the aftereffects that NBA players feel from COVID-19.
- In today’s edition of why the NCAA is terrible: The NCAA deliberately withheld the use of the term “March Madness” from the women’s tournament despite previously stating that the women didn’t want to use it.
- In better news, Clinton Yates talked to the creative crew behind the Geico Tag Team commercial. Enjoy!