The story is beginning to come into focus. We've learned from Baylor himself that, "[t]here’s a dispute going on." We also know that Baylor's mug and bio were mysteriously missing from the team's media guide. There are additional reports that the 74-year-old Baylor was offered some sort of ambassadorial or emeritus role with the team.
That this departure lacks ceremony and tact is little surprise, given Donald T. Sterling's history. You don't have to be a sentimentalist, though, to feel that the length of Baylor's tenure, coupled with his legacy as one of the most dynamic basketball players in Los Angeles history, warranted more menschkeit from the organization.
Baylor Reax from around the web
Elgin's problem was always two-fold: a) You rarely did anything he wanted to do, and b) he wanted the job too badly to ever put it on the line.
...Did you ever notice these things never happen to the Lakers?
The words Laker Family mean something with an organization studded with former players and Jerry Buss giving Magic Johnson and Pat Riley multi-million dollar severance packages after they left and were of no more use to him.
You don't hear people talk about Clipper Family. If someone did, I'd think of a family like that of the Emperor Commodus in "Gladiator."
This didn't have to happen at the same time you opened a sparkling $50-million practice site that could have symbolized a rebirth but as this debacle shows, your organization still needs some work, like from the top down.
Vikings went out like Vikings, pushed into fjords in ships to be set ablaze in a hail of burning arrows.
Clippers still go out like Clippers, feet first.
Given the unkind end to his legendary playing career, as well as the years of thankless service he gave the Clips long before their more recent flirtations with respectability, this is no way for Elg to go out, embroiled in a murky he-said, he-said.
Resigned? Retired? Fired? No one is quite sure. One theory suggests Baylor felt too much emphasis had been placed on his age and balked at the stripped-of-power terms he was offered to stay on as a consultant and/or ambassador. Another theory holds that Baylor, before a team-imposed Monday deadline for a final decision, hit the Clips with an aggressive string of demands to stay on.So much, then, for the fantasy notion that Baylor would be the one prominent figure in Clippers history who wouldn't leave in a messy divorce. Instead, we're looking at the usual unsavory parting of owner Donald Sterling and one of his leading basketball men, requiring the intervention of lawyers to negotiate a resolution.
The Clippers might actually run more smoothly without Baylor, because it reduces their management muddle from three factions -- (1) Sterling and team president Andy Roeser; (2) Dunleavy and trusty aide Neil Olshey; (3) Baylor -- to two.
In October 2003, just a few months after the Clippers named Dunleavy coach, the team brought in personnel director Neil Olshey and let go of longtime personnel man Barry Hecker, a move that was seen by most as the result of a power struggle between Dunleavy and Baylor. With Hecker out and Olshey hired, there was no question that Dunleavy had put his stamp on the organization, and that Baylor was increasingly becoming a figurehead.
Baylor is a link to "The Worst Franchise in Pro Sports" days. He should have been fired each and every year since, say, 1987. So that's about two decades of reprieves. And although not much will change in the short term since MDsr was already calling the shots, it's clearly better for him to have the title along with the responsibility.
Seems like it could have been handled better though. I hope Baylor doesn't end up suing Sterling for his salary like Bill Fitch had to. That's embarrassing.
I have a piece up at TrueHoop. The takeaway:
Mike Dunleavy will assume the GM post. He has named Neil Olshey, whom he brought in the summer of 2003 from SFX Sports Group [now part of Wasserman Media Group], as assistant GM.
As an executive, Baylor was an enigma -- a fact that's as much a product of circumstance as instinct. From the outset, Baylor had a unique arrangement with Sterling. Virtually every owner in sports demands winning as a mandate from his front office principal. But Baylor wasn't asked to achieve with the Clippers so much as to preside. No matter how bad things got for the Clippers, Baylor had unrivaled job security.That's because Sterling wasn't looking for a visionary. He wanted an attendant.
Stein's point is interesting -- factional strife in Clipperland has now been reduced from a tripartite affair to two opposing camps. Makes for more streamlined conflict.