Elvin Hayes

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Elvin Hayes : biography

November 17, 1945 –

NBA career

Hayes joined the NBA with the San Diego Rockets in 1968 and in his rookie year, he scored a career-high 54 points against the Detroit Pistons on November 11 of that year. As a rookie, Hayes led the NBA in scoring with 28.4 points per game, averaged 17.1 rebounds per game, and was named to the NBA All-Rookie Team. Hayes’ scoring average is the fifth best all-time for a rookie, and he remains the last rookie to lead the NBA in scoring average.

In Hayes’ second season, he led the NBA in rebounding, becoming the first player other than Bill Russell or Wilt Chamberlain to lead the category since 1957 (Chamberlain was injured during much of the season). In Hayes’ third season, 1970–71, he scored a career best 28.7 points per game. In 1971, the Rockets moved to Houston, enabling Hayes to play in the city of his college triumphs. In 1972, Hayes was traded to the Baltimore Bullets, where he teamed with Hall-Of-Famer Wes Unseld to form a fierce and dominating frontcourt combination. The 18.1 rebounds per game Hayes averaged in 1974 is the third highest rebounding average of any NBA player since Wilt Chamberlain retired in 1973.

Hayes and Unseld later led the Washington Bullets to 3 NBA Finals (1975, 1978, and 1979), and an NBA title over The Seattle SuperSonics in 1978. He shined brightly, especially in the NBA playoffs. During the Bullets’ championship season (1978), he averaged 21.8 points and 12.1 rebounds per game in 21 playoff games. One year later, he set an NBA Finals record for most offensive rebounds in a game (11), in a May 27, 1979 game against the SuperSonics. The Chicago Bulls’ Dennis Rodman would tie this record twice, both games coming in the 1996 NBA Finals, also against the SuperSonics.

On June 8, 1981, Hayes was traded to the Houston Rockets. The "Big E" closed out his career with the Rockets in 1984. Hayes had a career scoring average of 21.0 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. He played at least 80 games in every season. He ranks fourth in NBA history in total rebounds, behind Chamberlain, Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.