On this day in 1960 Elgin Baylor of the Los Angeles Lakers scored 71 points in a National Basketball Association game against the New York Knicks, hitting 28 2-pointers and 15 free throws. The Lakers won 123-108 on the Knicks’ home floor, basketball mecca, Madison Square Garden.
As a pre-adolescent wanna-be basketball player who had recently moved to Los Angeles, these high-scoring events were markers. The previous year, Mr. Baylor had scored 64 points in a single game, but this 71 was something special. At the time it was, of course, the most points ever scored in an NBA game. Since then, only three players (Wilt Chamberlain, 5 times; Kobe Bryant and David Thompson once each) have ever scored more points in a game.
Later that season, I attended a game the Lakers played against the Syracuse Nationals and the great Dolph Schayes at Los Angeles State College, away from their usual home location of the LA Sports Arena. I remember the announcer introducing the starting line ups: “And, at forward, number 22, Elgin, 71-Jewel, Baylor.” I referred to the use of “jewel” in an Feb 2008 post about an article on Mr. Baylor’s career; this note serves as further explanation for that reference.