Jury rejects Elgin Baylor's claims

Updated: March 30, 2011, 7:29 PM ET
ESPNLosAngeles.com

LOS ANGELES -- A jury has rejected Elgin Baylor's claim of age discrimination and harassment, giving the Los Angeles Clippers a major victory against their former general manager.

The Los Angeles Superior Court jury on Wednesday declined to award Baylor any damages. He claimed he was forced out of the job he held for 22 years.

The Clippers had contended that Baylor left the team on his own.

Baylor, a 76-year-old Hall of Fame player, had no comment after leaving the courtroom.

Baylor's attorney, Alvin L. Pittman, had asked that his client be awarded about $2 million for past and future lost wages as well as for emotional distress, urging jurors to reject the Clippers' argument that Baylor left on his own.

"We thought from day one that there was no merit to this case," Clippers attorney Robert H. Platt said. "I commend the organization for not succumbing to the temptation to settle the case and to see it through to a jury verdict."

In a statement, the Clippers said Tuesday's verdict was "inevitable and it represents a complete vindication of all of the baseless claims asserted by Mr. Baylor."

The team added: "For more than two years, Mr. Baylor's counsel has gone to extraordinary lengths in a fruitless effort to fabricate a case. This was a case of FIRE!, ready, aim. The jury saw through their baseless rhetoric and quickly realized that there were no facts to support any of Mr. Baylor's allegations."

The jury deliberated about 4½ hours over Tuesday and Wednesday.

Jury foreman John Casani of Pasadena said the panel believed that Baylor was not the victim of "disparate treatment" because of his age. He said any dissatisfaction with Baylor by team officials resulted from the woeful performance of the franchise.

The Clippers' best record during Baylor's time as GM was 47-35 in 2005-06, but during most of the other years, they finished below .500 and did not make the playoffs.

Baylor sued the Clippers and the NBA in February 2009, alleging race- and age-related discrimination. His attorneys dropped the racism allegation before trial, along with all allegations against the league.

Current team president Andy Roeser is 51. Baylor said Roeser treated him differently because of his age. Roeser acknowledged during the trial he suggested to Donald Sterling in 2005 that Baylor should be replaced, but said the owner rejected the idea.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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