Los Angeles Lakers

This Date in NBA History (Nov. 5): Los Angeles Lakers legend Elgin Baylor retires after 14-year career

On Nov. 5, 1971, Elgin Baylor retired at the age of 37 after just nine games of the 1971-72 season. In the season prior, Baylor played only two games due to a knee injury that all but ended his career.

A career that spanned 14 years - all with the Lakers (Minneapolis/Los Angeles) - Baylor's time in the league is one that is quite often overlooked. He was pivotal in the Lakers reaching eight NBA Finals from 1959 to 1970, although Baylor and the Lakers came up short against the dynasty that was the Boston Celtics in seven of those eight Finals appearances. He has no scoring title to his name because his career also coincided with that of Wilt Chamberlain's.

But how often does a player win Rookie of the Year and the All-Star Game MVP in the same season? Baylor did that. At one point, he held the record for most points in a game (71), in a playoff game (63) and in one half of a playoff game (33).

"He was one of the most spectacular shooters the game has ever known," Baylor's longtime teammate Jerry West told HOOP magazine in 1992. "I hear people talking about forwards today and I haven't seen many that can compare with him."

At 6-foot-5 and 255 pounds, Baylor averaged 27.4 points and 13.5 rebounds through 846 regular-season career games. In the 1962-63 season, he became the first NBA player to finish in the top five in four different statistical categories - scoring, rebounding, assists and free-throw percentage.

A 10-time All-Star and receiver of 11 All-NBA nods, Baylor was elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame for his illustrious career five years after his retirement.

"I say without reservation that Elgin Baylor is the greatest cornerman who ever played pro basketball," Bill Sharman, who played against Baylor and coached him in his final years with the Lakers, told the Los Angeles times during Baylor's retirement in 1971.

Ironically, the season he retired, the Lakers would go on to win their sixth championship in franchise history and the first in Los Angeles.

Other notable events on Nov. 5

  • In 2017, James Harden went off for 56 points and 13 assists in a blowout 137-110 win over the Utah Jazz, doing so on 19-for-25 shooting from the field, 7-for-8 from the 3-point line and 11-for-12 from the free-throw line.
  • In 2008, Tony Parker erupted for a career-high 55 points and led the San Antonio Spurs to a 129-125 double-overtime victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. He also recorded 10 assists and seven rebounds while shooting 22-for-36 (61.1%) from the field and 9-for-10 (90%) from the free-throw line. At the time of this performance, Parker's points tally was the third-most scored in a single game in franchise history (now 4th; LaMarcus Aldridge - 56 in 2019).
  • In 1993, the Spurs played their first game at the new Alamodome, establishing an NBA record for opening night attendance by drawing 36,523 fans. They beat the Golden State Warriors, 91-85. The Alamodome would remain the team's home arena for nine seasons, including for the franchise's first championship in 1999.
  • In 1988, the Miami Heat played their first NBA game. They lost their opener to the LA Clippers, 111-91.

Notable game-winning buzzer-beaters on Nov. 5

Evan Fournier vs. Cleveland Cavaliers in 2018

Gordon Hayward vs. Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014

Tobias Harris vs. Philadelphia 76ers in 2014

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