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Lakers great Elgin Baylor dies at 86

Los Angeles Lakers great Elgin Baylor, who soared through the 1960s with a high-scoring style of basketball that became the model for the modern NBA player, has died. He was 86.

The Lakers announced on Monday that the 11-time NBA All-Star died of natural causes in Los Angeles with his wife, Elaine, and daughter Krystal by his side.

With silky-smooth movement and athleticism, Baylor played a major role in revolutionising basketball from a ground-bound sport into an aerial show.

He spent parts of 14 seasons with the Lakers in Minneapolis and Los Angeles during his Hall of Fame career, teaming with Jerry West throughout the ’60s in one of the most potent tandems in basketball history.

“Elgin was THE superstar of his era – his many accolades speak to that,” Lakers governor Jeanie Buss said in a statement announcing Baylor’s death.

Baylor played in an era before significant television coverage of basketball, and little of his play was ever captured on film.

His spectacular style is best remembered by those who saw it in person – including West, who once called him “one of the most spectacular shooters the world has ever seen”.

Baylor had an uncanny ability to hang in mid-air indefinitely, inventing shots along the way with his head bobbing.

Years before Julius Erving and Michael Jordan became international superstars with their similarly acrobatic games, Baylor created the blueprint for the modern superstar.

Baylor soared above most of his contemporaries, but never won a championship or led the NBA in scoring, largely because he played at the same time as stars Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain.

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