Baylor, who played for the Lakers for 14 seasons and was an All-Star 11 times, was 86.
“Elgin was the love of my life and my best friend,” his wife, Elaine, said in a statement provided by the team. “And like everyone else, I was in awe of his immense courage, his dignity and the time he gave to all the fans. At that time, we ask that our family and I be allowed to mourn his passing in privacy. ”
According to the Lakers, Baylor died with Elaine and her daughter, Krystal, by his side.
Baylor was a prolific goalscorer and only two men in NBA history – Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain – average more points per game.
During the 1961-1962 season he was on active duty in the Army, stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington. According to the military, he used his weekend passes to play for the Lakers and averaged over 38 points and nearly 19 rebounds per game in 48 games.
Baylor was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1977. His Hall of Fame biography describes Baylor as “the first athlete to play over the rim, paving the way for future jumpers like Connie Hawkins, Julius Erving and Michael Jordan. ”
He played with the Lakers his entire career, including two seasons when the franchise was still based in Minneapolis.
“Elgin was THE superstar of his day – his many accolades attest to that,” said Lakers owner Jeanie Buss. “He was one of the few Lakers players whose career spanned from Minneapolis to Los Angeles. But above all, he was a man of great integrity. ”
The Lakers retired his No.22 jersey in 1983.
Baylor was also a longtime NBA executive, joining the Los Angeles Clippers in 1986 as vice president of basketball operations, according to the league.
In 2006, he was chosen as League Officer of the Year. He left the team two years later and unsuccessfully sued the team for age discrimination.
NBA legend and varsity basketball analyst Charles Barkley said Baylor was a kind person he has spent a lot of time with over the years.
“To me, he’s probably the most underrated great basketball player of all time,” Barkley said. “It was an honor and a privilege to be around him. But he always behaved with great dignity and respect. ”