Nearly three months before they will immortalize in the form of a bronze statue, the Los Angeles Lakers welcomed Elgin Baylor back to Staples Center on Friday night. Baylor was recognized between the first and second quarters, receiving a standing ovation.
Prior to that moment, Baylor was greeted by fellow Lakers legend Magic Johnson and the two shared a warm embrace outside the locker room. Johnson reminded Baylor how deserving he was of the honor the organization has bestowed upon him.
For all he accomplished, Baylor is often overlooked in terms of all-time greats. Though, in some circles he’s considered the first coming of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
How Baylor is viewed is hardly of any concern. “I never really think about that. I just think about the good times I had with my teammates,” he said. “I never really think about it. I really don’t.
“I just think about my ex-teammates. The players that I played with, all of us had a really close relationship. Families would get together for dinner and everything else.”
What Baylor does reflect on is whether or not he’d have done anything differently in his career. “The only thing I wish is I didn’t have is all the injuries, but that’s just part of the game,” Baylor said. “We had coaches who would say to play through it, so that’s how we thought it was supposed to be.”
Baylor reiterated how humbled he is to have been chosen by the Lakers for the organization’s next statue, adding he’s “grateful.” The team has not provided any details on the sculpting, and Baylor himself hasn’t given it much consideration.
“I guess my smile to show my teeth,” he said, flashing his famous grin.
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