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Elgin Baylor’s Finals Record: Great But Never Victorious

Elgin Baylor’s finals record was 0-7. Baylor lost six times to the Boston Celtics and once to the New York Knicks. Baylor did set the NBA record for most points scored in a finals game with 61 points in game 5 of the 1962 NBA Finals. His Lakers won game 5 but they lost the series 4-3 to the Boston Celtics. 

How Many Finals Did Elgin Baylor Lose? 

Elgin Baylor lost all seven NBA Finals he played in. Baylor played 2 seasons for the Minneapolis Lakers and 12 more  for the team after they moved to Los Angeles – though he missed most of the last 2 seasons due to injury. 

In his seven NBA Finals, Baylor lost six times to Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics and once to Clyde Frazier and his New York Knicks. 

YearElgin Baylor’sLakers Playoff ResultsGamesOpponent
58-59Lost NBA Finals0-4Boston Celtics
59-60Lost West Finals3-4St. Louis Hawks
60-61Lost West Finals3-4St. Louis Hawks
61-62Lost NBA Finals3-4Boston Celtics
62-63Lost NBA Finals2-4Boston Celtics
63-64Lost West Semis2-3St. Louis Hawks
64-65Lost NBA Finals*1-4Boston Celtics
65-66Lost NBA Finals3-4Boston Celtics
66-67Lost West Semis0-3SF Warriors
67-68Lost NBA Finals2-4Boston Celtics
68-69Lost NBA Finals3-4Boston Celtics
69-70Lost NBA Finals3-4NY Knicks
70-71Lost West Finals**1-4Milwaukee Bucks

* Elgin Baylor did not play in the 1965 Finals due to an injury suffered earlier in the playoffs.

** Baylor injured himself two games into the 1970-1971 season and did not play the rest of the year. 

How Many Times Did Elgin Baylor Go to the NBA Finals? 

Elgin Baylor went to the Finals seven times depending on how you count. Baylor personally played in seven NBA Finals and lost them all.

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Elgin Baylor Poster

In 1965 Elgin Baylor was injured in the Western Division Finals and did not play any more that season. The Lakers did go to the Finals that year and lost, but Baylor did not play.

In 1972, Baylor played nine games and then retired due to an achilles injury that had caused him to miss all but two of the prior season’s games. He was 37 years old.

The Lakers went to and won the Finals that season, but Baylor did not play and, in fact, was officially retired. 

Which Player Has the Most Finals Losses? 

Elgin Baylor does not have the record for most Finals losses. That record belongs to Baylor’s teammate Jerry West who lost 8 NBA Finals. 

 West was Mr. Outside and Baylor was Mr. Inside. They made a great team, but they just could not get by the Celtics and Bill Russell.

Mr. Clutch, as Jerry West was also called, was healthy in 1965 the year Baylor was forced to miss the Finals due to a playoff knee injury. The Lakers lost to the Celtics that season too, which explains why West has one more finals loss than Baylor.

Elgin Baylor does hold the record for most NBA Finals losses without a win. In 1972 West won the NBA title along with Wilt Chamberlain. That was the season Baylor retired after nine games due to his lingering achilles injury.

So Jerry West has one more loss than Elgin Baylor in the NBA Finals, but he does have one win too, which Baylor does not have. 

Is Elgin Baylor an NBA Champion? 

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Elgin Baylor Poster

I would say no, Elgin Baylor is not an NBA Champion. If you check Baylor’s basketball reference page, you’ll see no mention of an NBA title.

That is because Baylor officially retired early in the 1971 season because of a lingering injury. That injury had caused him to miss every game except two the prior season.

He was done playing and expressed that. The Lakers went on to win the Finals that year. 

If Baylor had been a key part of the team who got injured in the Western Division Finals, I could see the argument that he was a champion even if he didn’t play in the Finals that year. 

But that is not what happened. Baylor was done with basketball and was not a major part of the team that won the title that year. He is not an NBA champion.

That does not mean he was not incredible. Baylor averaged 27 points and 13.5 rebounds per game for his career. He scored the most points in any NBA Finals game – 61 points in game 5 of the 1962 Finals. 

Baylor averaged 41 points per game for those Finals! But his team lost. They had the misfortune to be matched up against Bill Russell – the greatest winner in the history of the game. 

Elgin Baylor was one of the greatest players in the history of basketball, but he was not an NBA champion. 

Summary: Elgin Baylor’s Finals Record

Elgin Baylor lost all seven NBA Finals in which he played. Baylor has the most Finals appearances without a win. His Lakers lost six times to the Boston Celtics and once to the New York Knicks in the NBA Finals.

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