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Clippers exec Jerry West’s heartbreaking question to Elgin Baylor he was never able to ask

Jerry West, Elgin Baylor

We lost a legend on Monday when it was announced that the great Elgin Baylor had passed away at the age of 86. His death was mourned by the basketball community, and for his part, former Los Angeles Lakers teammate Jerry West, now with the Los Angeles Clippers as an executive board member, could not help but share the sorrow brought about by the passing of a good friend.

West looked back on the moments he shared with Baylor both on and off the court during their time together representing the Purple & Gold:

“I’m very sad,” said West, reached by phone Monday afternoon, via Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. “I guess I’m grateful to have shared some incredible times with him. He was just one of those unique individuals.

“I just learned so much from him about how to carry yourself as a player, a person. Most of all, the times we spent together after games. … Oh my God. The respect you gain for someone like him. He went out of his way to be helpful to me in terms of growing up, sharing things with me, which I know I will cherish the rest of my life, I know that. He was just a great human being.”

Right now, West holds one regret. He admitted that he never had the chance to ask Baylor this one question:

“I couldn’t ever ask him this question: I often wonder how he felt to see us win a championship and he only played about [nine] games that year,” West said. “When he retired, we won 33 straight games. I wonder what he felt like. With me, I would have probably felt like, ‘Oh, my God, how can I be just this incredible player and, without me, we win 33 straight games and win a championship.’

“I could never bring myself to ask him that. Never. I’m sure he felt like. … Who knows what he felt like? This will be a very reflective day for me, that’s for sure.”

Baylor had a memorable 14-year career with the Lakers which included no less than 11 All-Star appearances. He’s an all-time great and a Hall of Famer. However, the one thing Baylor never won was an NBA championship. As West described above, it was only at the end of Baylor’s career that the Lakers won a title.

Unfortunately, how Elgin Baylor feels about this rather bitter memory is something that we will never be able to find out. Rest in peace, legend.