Elgin Baylor: The Man Who Changed Basketball

Bijan C. Bayne. Rowman & Littlefield, $35 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4422-4570-9
Elgin Baylor, one of the premier superstars in the NBA, gets his first biography courtesy of Bayne, a Washington, D.C., sportswriter, who makes the case for considering Hall of Famer Baylor among the most elite players with his signature gravity-defying “hesitation” jump shot. Born in 1934 in segregated D.C., Baylor didn’t play basketball until high school, quickly gaining notice on the Phelps Vocational High School team. When the High Court struck down integration in 1954, Baylor transferred to another school, where a press notice called him “literally unstoppable,” before joining teams at the College of Idaho and Seattle University, scoring big points and media attraction. During the 1958 NBA draft, Baylor was selected first overall and signed with the Minnesota Lakers, only to face Jim Crow laws when it came to hotels; the Lakers sat out a game in hopes of influencing team owners to create a nondiscrimination policy. Bayne writes expertly of Baylor’s golden era with the newly relocated Los Angeles Lakers, his team-up with sharpshooter Jerry West, their rivalry with the Boston Celtics, his play in seven NBA finals and 11 All-Star games, and his decision to retire in 1971 due to bad knees. Bayne’s gracious biography of a media-savvy, high-profile ex-sportsman shows the man as much more than his patented spin moves and one-legged jumpers. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/29/2015
Release date: 08/01/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 320 pages - 978-1-57860-534-7
Open Ebook - 292 pages - 978-1-4422-4571-6
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