On April 14, 1962, Elgin Baylor put on one of the most legendary performances in NBA history — he scored a still-standing NBA Finals record 61 points, leading the Los Angeles Lakers to a 126-121 Game 5 victory against their arch-rival Boston Celtics. This put the Lakers up 3-2 in the series. Although the Lakers failed to close out that series, Baylor’s NBA Finals record 61 points stands as a hallmark moment in the annals of NBA history. In addition to his astounding 61 points, Baylor also grabbed 22 rebounds in this signature game of his legendary Hall of Fame playing career. Baylor averaged an astounding 40.6 points per game and 17.9 rebounds per game during the 1962 NBA Finals. Rick Barry and Michael Jordan are the only other NBA greats to have since averaged 40 + points per game in an NBA Finals series. Baylor had averaged a career high 38.3 points per game during his 48-game 1961-62 NBA regular season, which was shortened by the fact that for a portion of the season, he, a United States Army reserve, was called to military duty.
Elgin Baylor was one of NBA history’s most groundbreaking and influential superstars. He cosmically transcended the game as the NBA’s seminal high-flying acrobat and with his shot-creating artistry. Baylor, a revolutionary showman during his time, was one of the game’s greatest all-time scorers. Baylor’s career regular season average of 27.4 points per game ranks no. 3 on the all-time list and his career 27 point per game playoff average ranks no. 8 on the all-time list. At only 6’5 inches, he averaged a remarkable career regular season average of 13.5 rebounds per game and career per game playoff average of 12.9. He also exhibited artistry with his coruscating passing ability. 11 times throughout Baylor’s career, he was voted to play in the NBA All-Star game and 10 times he was selected to the All-NBA First Team. The basketball world continues to mourn the loss of but remember this revolutionary figure and great man.