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Clippings: The Clippers reflect on the passing of Elgin Baylor

Perhaps no NBA figure was closer to Baylor than Clippers consultant Jerry West.

Eric Gordon press conference Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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