Tip-Off Timer: Baylor's Streak of 49 Playoff Games With at Least 20 Points
There have been many wonderful players throughout history who never won an NBA title -- the modern era is full of them -- but there never has been one greater than Elgin Baylor.
He simply played at the wrong time, butting heads with the dynastic Boston Celtics and their incredible run of 10 titles in 11 years.
Nothing illustrates his futility and frustration more than the 49 consecutive playoff games covering five seasons in which Baylor scored at least 20 points or more. The Celtics won all five of those titles, beating the Lakers twice in the Finals.
His streak of 20-point playoff games trails only Michael Jordan (60) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (57), who combined for 12 championships.
Included in Baylor's streak were 11 consecutive playoff games with at least 30 points in 1962 -- still an NBA record.
He averaged 34.8, 38.3 and 34 points in three consecutive seasons, respectively, early in his career, yet he also never won a scoring title, unable to surpass the offensive exploits of legendary Wilt Chamberlain.
Baylor, at 6-5, 225 pounds, was a precursor to the dominating athleticism that Julius Erving and Michael Jordan eventually made famous. He didn't jump quite as high, but he was stronger, finding so many different ways to score. He never received their acclaim, primarily because he played before the days of widespread television exposure.
"I hear people talk about great forwards today, but I haven't seen many that can compare with him (Baylor),'' former teammate and Lakers executive Jerry West once said.
Baylor played two seasons with the Lakers in Minneapolis (1958-60) before the move to Los Angeles. He played in 11 All-Star Games. In 134 career playoff games, he averaged 27 points and 12.9 rebounds, earning his spot among the league's greatest players in history.
The list of players without titles includes Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, John Stockton, Pete Maravich, George Gervin, Patrick Ewing, Steve Nash and Jason Kidd, but none have measured up to the exploits of Baylor, the No. 1 pick in the 1958 Draft.
He still holds the NBA record for most points (61) in an NBA Finals game, which was part of his 49-game streak. His spectacular effort in Game 5 of the 1962 Finals propelled the Lakers a victory and a 3-2 lead in the series against the Celtics.
You can probably guess how that series ended.