LOS ANGELES (NewsNation Now) — Former Los Angeles Lakers star and Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor died of natural causes Monday, the basketball team said. He was 86.
The Lakers released a statement Monday, saying Baylor died in Los Angeles with his wife, Elaine, and daughter, Krystal, by his side.
With a silky-smooth jumper and fluid athleticism, Baylor played a major role in revolutionizing basketball from a ground-bound sport into an aerial show.
Lakers Governor Jeanie Buss praised Baylor as “THE superstar of his era,” adding that his many accolades speak to that.
“He was one of the few Lakers players whose career spanned from Minneapolis to Los Angeles. But more importantly, he was a man of great integrity, even serving his country as a U.S. Army reservist, often playing for the Lakers only during his weekend pass,” Buss said.
His second career as a personnel executive with the Los Angeles Clippers was less successful.
He worked for the Clippers from 1986 until 2008, when he left the team with acrimony and an unsuccessful lawsuit against owner Donald Sterling and the NBA claiming age and race discrimination.
Baylor was the first NBA player to surpass 70 points with a 71-point game Dec. 11, 1960, against New York.
Baylor was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1977, and a statue honoring him was unveiled at the Los Angeles STAPLES Center in 2018, according to the Lakers.
He’s survived by his wife, three children and sister.
“Elgin was the love of my life and my best friend,” his wife Elaine said in a statement released by the Lakers. “And like everyone else, I was in awe of his immense courage, dignity and the time he gave to all fans.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.