Two Laker legends, together one more time…
L.A.Times: Jerry West and Elgin Baylor are together again Playing the game of basketball, in a city that didn’t notice or care at first, they were joined at the hip. Still are.
Elgin Baylor and Jerry West were the basement cement blocks on the ritzy high-rise building now known as the Los Angeles Lakers. Long before much of the ga-ga masses who now worship the Purple and Gold were even born, Baylor and West were piling bricks and spreading plaster.
Before Kobe, before Shaq, even before Magic, the seed of professional basketball in the West was planted by Baylor and West. They were the pied pipers, the water on the sapling.
On Wednesday they stood in the peristyle end of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, two 70-somethings, shoulder-to-shoulder in front of a bronze plaque, with photographers clicking away. They were there for recognition, both fitting and overdue. So were the words that began the first two paragraphs on the plaque:
“Jerry West was fire.”
“Elgin Baylor was ice.”
Until a few years ago, these Coliseum ceremonies honored only the dead, and only those who had accomplished a measure of their excellence in the Coliseum. But Coliseum Commissioners David Israel and Zev Yaroslavsky led a movement to extend those honors to the living, and to the entire complex, which includes the Sports Arena.
Baylor and West were obvious choices. Baylor and West together even more so.
“Most people, when they are honored, are honored separately,” West said. “For me, this is more significant.”