Review by Booklist Review
*Starred Review* Before Julius Erving, before Michael Jordan, Elgin Baylor brought ballet to basketball, transforming a slow game of two-handed set shots into a kinetic sport defined by movement (often in the air). Baylor's career, first in college and then with the Minneapolis and Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA, generated a cavalcade of superlatives: scoring and rebounding records, All-Star Game appearances, and a steady stream of accolades from his peers. But Baylor's life in basketball, as he and coauthor Eisenstock make clear in this compulsively readable autobiography, was also one of great frustration: his Laker teams, in which he shared the spotlight with Jerry West and, later, Wilt Chamberlain, reached the NBA finals eight times and lost them all (seven of the eight were to the Bill Russell-led Boston Celtics). This bitter pill was made still more unpalatable by the fact that Baylor retired at the beginning of the 1971-72 season, the same season the Lakers finally won the championship. Speaking with candor and insight, Baylor recalls a lifetime fight against racism on the court and in society (including his stint later in life as a general manager of the L.A. Clippers, working for notorious racist Donald Sterling), but his focus remains firmly on basketball; remarkably, even his accounts of big games never feel repetitive, conveying instead the excitement of watching a player who rarely made the same move twice. Along the way, he also details his difficult relationship with Chamberlain and his deep friendship with Russell. For anyone with an interest in basketball history, this is absolutely essential reading.--Ott, Bill Copyright 2018 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
In this sturdy, thoughtful memoir, Los Angeles Lakers legend Baylor digs into his lifelong relationship with basketball. When he was a boy in postwar Washington, D.C., the court served as a refuge from racism and from his perpetually scowling father, "the original angry black man." The skills Baylor exhibited playing in high school, such as his reverse dunk, took him to the College of Idaho and Seattle University and, in 1958, to the Minneapolis Lakers (which would move to L.A. in 1960). Professional success did not shield him from mistreatment, however. Baylor made headlines for refusing to play a game in Charleston, W.Va., after a hotel denied him and his black teammates rooms because of their race. "I will stage my own private protest," he said at the time. He was also among the 1964 All-Star Game players who threatened to boycott the game unless all NBA players received better treatment (including a pension plan and a full-time doctor for every team). When his playing career ended, Baylor became the GM of the Los Angeles Clippers. Throughout, Baylor vividly remembers former teammates such as the aloof Wilt Chamberlain ("In our four years on the Lakers together, we never got out to dinner") and front-office figures, such as Clippers owner Donald Sterling, Baylor's longtime boss, who comes across as odious in telling Baylor, "I prefer white coaches. Black players are more intimidated by a white coach." Baylor's bittersweet and detailed stories will enchant and enlighten hoops fans of all ages. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Review by Library Journal Review
Hall of Famer Baylor (b. 1934) chronicles his basketball career with the Minneapolis and Los Angeles Lakers, beginning with his childhood, particularly the racism and police harassment he experienced in segregated Washington, DC. Nicknamed Rabbit for his speed on the court, Baylor became a number one draft pick by the Minneapolis Lakers and developed a revolutionary style of play. This memoir provides insight into the daily grind of professional basketball in the 1950s and 1960s, including relationships with Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain. Despite eight appearances in the NBA finals, Baylor expresses frustration over never winning a championship. Knee and back troubles ultimately limited his career. Off the court, Baylor's refusal to play in a game after being denied a hotel room because of his race led to changes in NBA policy. Following his appointment as general manager of the Los Angeles Clippers, Baylor comments on the racism he witnessed by former owner Donald Sterling. Readers should seek out Bijan Bayne's Elgin Baylor for a more thorough examination of the star's legacy as well as his coaching and general manager experience. VERDICT A quick, enjoyable read. Recommended for basketball fans interested in Lakers history and Baylor, an underappreciated player.-Chris Wilkes, -Tazewell Cty. P.L., VA © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.