Friday , Feb , 13 , 2009 J.N.

Elgin Baylor: The Legacy he left behind.

Elgin Baylor: The Legacy he left behind.As teams around the league are making the huge last push to acquire the pieces to improve, make the playoffs, win a title, or dump salary as the trade deadline draws nearer, one general manager has done all of that through his 22 year tenure with the Los Angeles Clippers.

And he was finally fired earlier in the 2008-2009 season. Mr. Baylor, you can go home and relax now.

He’s currently suing the Clippers and the NBA for age and racial discrimination.

"…discriminated against and unceremoniously released from his position with the team on account of his age and his race…"

Mr. Baylor, please be honest. It should really say, “…discriminated against and unceremoniously released from his position with the team on account of futility, bad draft picks, and lack of direction and success…”

I can see where he’s coming from with the “age” discrimination. Among old people, ageism plays a huge role with the stereotypes of being senile, stubborn, slow, and sleeping way too early, eating too much Werther’s Originals, vacationing in Florida, and smelling like Tiger Balm. Baylor probably has something here with the old adage, “You’re just too old for the job.” There is no country for old men indeed. The old man has a case here, but, honestly, I didn’t notice that he was black because, really, who gives a damn?

Black or white, I saw a general manager who tried. That’s all I saw. I couldn’t care less for anyone’s skin color. I hope it works out and this gets settled out of court with Baylor getting $1-$2 million because he probably has so much dirt to use as leverage with insider knowledge of Sterling’s shady use of racism in his real estate business and other dirty little things he has done. Stop it with the full ugly things you call “ads” on the Los Angeles Times, Sterling. It’s an eyesore.

Back to basketball, the legacy that Elgin Baylor left behind shouldn’t be based on pure criticisms. That would be way too easy and simple. There’s enough of that to go around for any general manager. We should really look at it with a different perspective.

Elgin Baylor was handcuffed to a horrible situation. He was in a never ending cycle that had to end sometime. Have you watched “Cool Hand Luke” starring Paul Newman? Just like Luke, he chose to end the cycle himself. Baylor stopped performing general manager duties. Plenty of people will ask, “How was Baylor handcuffed to anything? He sucked, plain and simple. They renamed the lottery to ‘Elgin Baylor’s Annual Draft’ for a reason.”

Look, I’m not a Baylor apologist nor am I trying to come off as one. He’s had plenty of screw ups from Bo Kimble, Michael Olowokandi , Lorenzen Wright to Darius Miles. He’s had some success in the draft, too, with Danny Manning, Lamar Odom, Chris Kaman, Brent Barry, Loy Vaught, and Quentin Richardson. He was absolutely cursed with what happened to Shaun Livingston. We can’t blame him for that. It was just unfortunate.

The trades that he pulled off was his best asset as he’s the man who acquired Dominique Wilkins (even after surgery, Dominique was still the man), Corey Maggette, Sam Cassell, Andre Miller, Mark Jackson, Ron Harper, and Elton Brand. He did fine in trades, but he was absolutely brutal in drafting. He did not select any person who became the Clippers flagship franchise player despite having many top 10 selections up the butt.

He appears to be a bad general manager because of his shaky ability to locate quality players in the draft; a part of his legacy. Baylor was an awful scout.

He was absolutely handcuffed because he had an owner who just didn’t want to spend. There’s staying under the salary cap to avoid the luxury tax and then there’s staying well below the salary cap because the owner just didn’t want to put out much money. This explains the cheap contracts and plentiful amount of young players they had. It doesn’t hurt that the Clippers are cursed, too. They had a memorable playoff run to the second round under the Elton Brand era, but that’s the best the organization can muster in his 22 year tenure. Mike Dunleavy acquired some good talent as well, but they’re still not winning. I supposed it does not matter who the GM is or what players they bring in. They’re just cursed because of Donald Sterling.

Try not to call him “bad” GM. I know it’s hard, but try not to. He should not even be labeled with Matt Millen of the NFL, who is by far, the absolute worst GM in any sport. What we’re supposed to do is learn from all of this. I realize that great players, or players who just won a lot, never become great general managers. Off the top of my head, the only ones are Jerry West and Joe Dumars. Michael Jordan, Kevin McHale, Larry Bird, John Paxson, Steve Kerr, and Isiah Thomas all ruined the ship for great players looking to find a new career in running a team. Otis Smith, a solid player that never won anything in the NBA, is a successful GM of the Orlando Magic since he was involved in drafting Dwight Howard and “Meerkat” Jameer Nelson and acquiring Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis.

Never hire a great player to run your team. The odds of having a Jerry West or Joe Dumars are very slim. That’s the other half of Elgin Baylor’s legacy. Players who range from bad to mediocre usually become good leaders in the front office because they spent the majority of their playing careers glued to the bench watching the game as fans. They see the weaknesses and strengths. They spend all time sitting analyzing what works and what doesn’t just like me.

Just like you. As diehard fans.