At his peak he probably was the best all-round player in the sport's history. Today, after an astonishing recovery from serious injuries to both knees, Elgin Baylor (see cover) is ready to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to their fifth Western Division title in six years. And he is again the most provocative player in the game, thrilling spectators every time he gets the ball, because of the remarkable variety of his offensive actions. His left-handed hook (opposite) opens a gallery of those moves, which is followed by the story of Baylor the man, whose personality dominates a whole team. Yet, as the Scouting Reports starting on page 48 indicate, even a fully recovered Baylor does not enable the Lakers to dominate the league. The whole NBA is haunted by an apparently invincible Boston squad.
Baylor's magnificent body control enables him to get shots off despite the closest guarding. In the sequence at right he goes around Don Nelson for a driving hook. Below, having faked past Tom Sanders (16), he contends in midair with Bill Russell. As Baylor decides whether to switch hands for a left-handed flip or lug in with a twisting layup, he forces Russell to delay a defensive move till the last instant.
In control and unhurried, Baylor waits for the right instant to drive past the pick set by Darrall Imhoff.
WALTER IOOSS JR.