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Baylor Made Seattle U his College Home, but UW Wouldn't Play Him

The basketball superstar spent three seasons in the city but the Huskies never faced him.
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The University of Washington simply wouldn't schedule cross-town Seattle University in basketball for the longest time.

While it would have been great sport to see these neighborhood teams go at it, the Huskies weren't interested in promoting the other program just a few miles across town.

The UW felt it never would have lived down a loss to the then-Chieftains. 

Besides the school from Broadway and Madison, beginning in the 1950s, had a much wider and more ambitious recruiting base than the Huskies.

SU uncovered Elgin Baylor in Idaho by way of the playgrounds of Washington, D.C. and brought him to the city.

He turned out to be Jordan before Jordan.

A 6-foot-6 forward with guard-like skills.

A man with springs and moves.

Baylor, who died Monday at 86, was the first player to levitate at length, at any level of the game, anywhere in the country, on any basketball floor.

He played for the Chieftains in 1957 and 1958, pushing the UW out of the headlines. 

Still, the only time he played against the Huskies was after they had graduated.

When Baylor was a Seattle U redshirt in 1956, he went up against former UW players in local AAU games as a member of Westside Ford in West Seattle.

He dominated every step of the way, drawing huge crowds for these impromptu competitions.

The dealership let him drive a beat-up blue Ford. 

It was mobile enough for Baylor to get caught racing good friend and golfing great Bill Wright down Aurora Avenue, both of whom reaching speeds of 80 miles per hour before getting pulled over. 

Wright, it should be noted, died recently in Los Angeles, too, Elgin's friend to the end.

Elgin Baylor interviewed with broadcaster Dave Grosby on one of his last visits to Seattle.

Elgin Baylor does a radio interview with Dave Grosby, plus his coach John Castellani. 

Reaching new basketball heights, the Huskies appeared in the 1953 Final Four, a moment that remains unmatched in program annals to this day.

To get there, they actually played Seattle U for the first time.

It wasn't scheduled, mind you; the NCAA bracket demanded it.

Against its worst fears, the UW somehow survived and won handily 92-70.

Still, it wasn't enough to get these teams to schedule a regular-season game.

Baylor showed up three years later and took Seattle U even farther into the postseason than the Huskies went.

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He put the Chieftains in the 1958 NCAA championship game against Kentucky in Louisville. 

He did this with broken ribs suffered in the semifinals during a 73-51 victory over tourney favorite Kansas State, which was led by a future Husky basketball coach in Tex Winter. 

Baylor got hurt after colliding with All-American Bob Boozer, later a long-time NBA player, including for the Seattle Sonics.

He gingerly walked away from that Final Four game with 23 points and 22 rebounds. 

Elgin Baylor is joined by former UW player Al Moscatel and one-time SU coach John Castellani.

Elgin Baylor is shown with former UW player Al Moscatel and SU coach John Castellani. 

Against Kentucky, Baylor helped the Chieftains build an 11-point lead, but they couldn't hold it and lost 84-72. 

The SU standout got into foul trouble, with three infractions called in the first 10 minutes, though one or more were questionable in a decidedly racist setting.

Baylor could barely breathe because of his injured ribs and he finished with 20 points, which were 12 fewer than his scoring average.

Yes, this guy averaged 32 points per game in his final season with the Chieftains.

Baylor was drafted by the Minneapolis Lakers and spent most of his career in Los Angeles after a franchise move.

He was an even better pro than amateur player.

He averaged 27.4 points per game during his 14-year Hall of Fame career, scoring at a 38.3 clip in his greatest season in 1961-62. 

A couple of times a year, Baylor returned to Seattle to play the Sonics, beginning with their 1967-68 expansion season. 

Two years later — and 11 seasons after Baylor had left town —the University of Washington finally felt the coast was clear. 

The Huskies and Chieftains scheduled and split a pair of games that season.

Somehow everyone survived. 

More than 50 years later, they're still playing.

The Huskies beat the now Redhawks this past season.

The schools have played 36 times.

But Baylor and the UW never mixed it up.

They should have.

Follow Dan Raley of Husky Maven on Twitter: @DanRaley1 and @HuskyMaven

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