When I think of #22, I automatically think of Clayton Kershaw. He was my choice last time I got #22 in the MLB Fan blog leaders.
When I told my friend Erik about it last time, he said “Emma, next time you get #22, let me be a host in your blog so that I can dedicate it to a particular player?.”
BTW, This is the second time Erik is hosted here. The first time, he wrote a touching post on how Erik, Lorena and I met.
I am blessed to call Erik and Lorena my friends and that we met because of the Dodgers. Here is his old post.
Here is Erik’s post for today:
Ever since CrzBlue told me about the tradition of dedicating a post to a former player whose jersey # matches your ranking for the month, I told her that when she earns #22, she must dedicate her page to Elgin Baylor. Yes, Elgin Baylor, the Laker. She found this kind of odd too.
I first became fascinated by Elgin Baylor back in the late 1980s. At that time I followed the Lakers and the NBA pretty closely. I soon realized that whenever people talk about great players from before the 1980s, those conversations center on West, Russell and Chamberlin. Now, those are some great players, and I don’t mean to take anything away from them, but I wish fans would include Baylor among those greats. In Los Angeles, I feel like whenever people think of Elgin Baylor, they automatically think of his tenure as an executive with the Los Angeles Clippers. He gets no love in L.A. My hope is that after reading this post you will realize that he is one of the NBA’s greatest players.
Please don’t try to argue that he could never be dominating in today’s game. That’s an anachronism and can’t be used in a valid argument. All you can do is look at his numbers, see how they compared to his day and see where they place him in NBA history. Elgin is one of those greats who never won a scoring title, and never won a Ring. Two reasons: Chamberlin and the Celtics.
Let’s just talk about Elgin now. In his 14-year career, he averaged 27.4 PPG, with 13.5 rebounds per game. At one time he held the NBA record for most points in a regular season game, and most points in a playoff game. Lakers fans may remember that it was Elgin Baylor’s record of 71 points in a single game that Kobe Bryant broke in 2006 with his 81 point game. In that game, Elgin also had 25 rebounds. Yeah, yeah, I know, Chamberlin had 100 points in a game.
In 1958, Elgin was the overall #1 draft pick, signed by the Lakers for $20,000. As a rookie Elgin earned every penny, finishing the season 4th in scoring (24.9) and 3rd in rebounding (15)–leading the Lakers in assists with 4.1 per game. Between 1960 and 1963, Elgin averaged 35.7 ppg. In his career, he was named to the All Star team 11 times, and led the Lakers to the Finals eight times. Unfortunately, we can only read and hear about what he did. There is not a whole lot of video that captures Elgin at the height of his greatness. I don’t think there’s even video of his 71 point magic. Sad. I would love to see that game!
Imagine this, during the 61-62 season, Elgin and Jerry West averaged a combined 70 points, respectively 38.3 and 30.8. In 62-63, Elgin was second in scoring with 34 ppg. In that same season, Elgin was the first player to finish in the top 5 in 4 categories–ppg, rpg, assists, free-throw %. Even in his second to last season, Elgin came in a close second in scoring with 26 ppg (Dave Bing had 27.1 ppg). In his last full season, Elgin averaged 24.8 ppg.
In 1977, Elgin was elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He’s a man who didn’t do well enough academically to make it into college without a friend pulling some strings. He’s a man who served his country at Fort Lewis, Washington. He’s a man who is a basketball great, and one of Los Angeles’ greatest athletes. When I see the #22, I think of Mister Elgin Gay Baylor!
P.S., T.J (Simers) if you’re reading this, a discussion with Elgin Baylor and Maury Wills, two L.A. greats from the 1960s would nice. You’d get a lot of fans for that, both basketball and baseball.