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Lakers legend Elgin Baylor: Reaction to his death

Los Angeles Lakers Hall of Fame forward Elgin Baylor died Monday, and the expressions of sympathy and condolences followed from across the basketball world.

So did tales of his greatness.

Fellow Lakers Hall of Famer Magic Johnson stated on Twitter that before Michael Jordan and other high-flying NBA stars, there was Baylor.

“I think that Los Angeles has been so spoiled with greatness, but it started with him. It started with him and Jerry [West],” Johnson said of Baylor in a phone interview. “First of all as a player, he was the one hanging in the air, doing all the trick shots. Just gliding. He was really the first guy for me to see do that, and then Dr. J came and then Michael [Jordan]. … I think that he doesn’t get the respect that he deserves.

“He was so classy, so nice. He gave me some good advice and did it in a quiet way. He really just held his head up high.”

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Former Clippers broadcaster Ralph Lawler, a Hall of Famer himself, remembered Baylor as being “ahead of his time.”

The duo of Elgin Baylor and Jerry West made the Los Angeles Lakers a power in the NBA. West recalls his relationship with Baylor, who died Monday.

“He did things with the ball and with his body that nobody had done before, and it was way ahead of his time” Lawler said in a phone interview. “He is one of the all-time players whose games would translate to today’s game in a heartbeat. He’d be as great today, maybe even greater, than he was then.”

Miami Heat President Pat Riley shared the same observations in a statement: “Besides being one of the greatest players in the history of the game, Elgin Baylor was one of the classiest, most dignified men of integrity I have ever met. He will be missed.”

Lakers forward Markieff Morris and former Clipper Jamal Crawford quickly reacted with the same sentiment: RIP to the legend Elgin Baylor.

Former Lakers stars and champions Pau Gasol and Michael Cooper joined in the condolences.

The Lakers released a lengthy statement on the loss of the franchise icon, the team’s first superstar after it moved from Minneapolis to Los Angeles.

Marques Johnson, the Hall of Famer and L.A. legend out of Crenshaw High, said Baylor “was just a man with a lot of pride and strong belief in himself about who he was and his place.”

“He didn’t take a second position to anybody that every played — Jerry [West], no matter who it was. You get him one-on-one, talk to him, and he would tell you point blank — ‘There was nobody better than me when I was playing out there,’” Johnson added. “But publicly, he wasn’t the guy to get out there and toot his own horn.”

A look at the life and playing days of Lakers Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor, who would become an executive with the Clippers.

Former Clippers star and Philadelphia 76ers exdecutive Elton Brand said that “Elgin was undoubtedly one of the best to ever play in our league, but for me, he was much more than that. When he brought me to the Clippers, it gave me great pride to see an ex-player lead a franchise with grace, dignity and honesty the way he did. He was great man that was always willing to share his knowledge regarding life on and off the court. He overcame countless challenges and broke even more barriers throughout his career as a player and executive.”

Here are more reactions to the passing of one of the all-time greats.

Staff writers Andrew Greif, Austin Knoblauch, Dan Loumena, Broderick Turner and Dan Woike contributed to this report.


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