Elvin Ernest Hayes is a retired American professional basketball player. He played in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for 16 years and played for the Houston Rockets and the Washington Bullets. He is a one time NBA Champion (1978), NBA Scoring Champion (1969), 12-time NBA All-Star (1969-1980), 3-time All-NBA First Team (1975, 1977, 1979).
Hayes played his college basketball in Eula D. Britton in Rayville, Louisiana. In his senior year, Hayes averaged 35 points during the regular season. He scored 45 points and grabbed 20 rebounds in the championship game to lead the Britton to the state championship in 1963-64. Hayes attended the University of Houston playing his college basketball for the Cougars. Hayes led the scoring for Houston for three straight years and for his college career averaged 31.0 points and 17.2 rebounds per game. He also holds the record for most number of rebounds in NCAA tournament history.
Hayes was drafted as the first overall pick in both the 1968 NBA draft and 1968 ABA draft and was selected by the San Diego Rockets and the Houston Mavericks, respectively. In his rookie year, Hayes led the league in scoring with 28.4 points per game and was named to the NBA All-Rookie Team. His scoring average is the fifth best by a rookie and is also the last time a rookie led the NBA in scoring average. In his second season, Hayes led the league in rebounding.
Hayes got traded to the Baltimore Bullets in 1972. Teaming up with another Hall-Of Famer in Wes Unseld, the two formed a fierce and dominating frontcourt leading the Washington Bullets to three NBA Finals in 1975, 1978 and 1979. In the 1978 Playoff run, Hayes averaged 21.8 points and 12.1 rebounds in 21 games leading the Bullets to the 1978 championship win over the Seattle SuperSonics. In these Finals, Hayes set an NBA Finals record for most offensive rebounds in a game. Chicago Bulls’ Dennis Rodman would go onto tie this record twice, both in the 1996 NBA Finals also against the Supersonics. Desiring to play for Houston towards the twilight of his career, Hayes for traded back to the Rockets. He ended the season with career-high averages of 21.0 points and 12.5 rebounds per game.
Over the course of 16 seasons, Hayes registered 27,313 points which is ninth on the All-Time Scorers List. He led the NBA in rebounding in 1970 and 1974 and ranks fourth in the All-Time Rebounds Leaders list. He was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1990 and was also a part of the NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team during the 1996–97 NBA season.