A look at what made Elgin Baylor Seattle basketball royalty


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Elgin Baylor dominated for two seasons at Seattle U. (Getty Images / Bettmann)

Seattle University and the NBA lost one of the best basketball players to ever play when Elgin Baylor died on Monday at the age of 86.

There was nothing Baylor couldn’t do on a basketball court. After coming to Seattle U and having to sit down for a year, Baylor turned the then Chieftains into an instant championship contender in 1956-57, his first season. He averaged 30 points and 20 rebounds per game (at 6-foot-5) and led the Seattle U to 5th in the country and a spot in the NIT, where they lost to St. Bonaventure.

The following season, with Elgin averaging 33 points and 20 rebounds, Seattle U won 23 games and advanced to the domestic semifinals, losing to Kentucky. Baylor then turned pro and was the No. 1 overall pick for the Lakers – the Minneapolis Lakers, who had gone 19-53 that year.

Baylor won the rookie of the year title in 1958-59, averaging 26 points and 14 tables, and in 1962 he set the record for most points scored in a single game of the final of the NBA. He lost 61 points and caught 22 rebounds while playing the 48 minutes.

Baylor continued to work for the Clippers as a longtime general manager and was actually the NBA Executive of the Year in 2006, but he never forgot his roots. When Seattle U returned to Division I in basketball 10 years ago, they approached Baylor to put his name on the court and host a tournament called The Elgin Baylor Classic. Not only did he do it, but he came to the inauguration and made a point of being noticed almost every year to the delight of the Redhawks.

The first Elgin Baylor Classic was a victory over Fresno State with Baylor in attendance. I still remember two days later Seattle U would have basketball royalty in the house again – they just didn’t know it yet. Seattle defeated Weber State and their promising guard Damian Lillard. Elgin followed by Dame – it was a great Division I start for Seattle U.

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