Bob Lanier, the left-handed large man who muscled up beside the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as one of many NBA’s high gamers of the Nineteen Seventies, died Tuesday. He was 73.
The NBA mentioned Lanier died after a brief sickness. The Hall of Famer had labored for the league as a world ambassador. The Athletic reported in 2019 that Lanier was being handled for bladder most cancers.
Lanier performed 14 seasons with the Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks and averaged 20.1 factors and 10.1 rebounds for his profession. He is third on the Pistons’ profession record in each factors and rebounds. Detroit drafted Lanier with the No. 1 total choose in 1970 after he led St. Bonaventure to the Final Four.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver mentioned Lanier was among the many most gifted facilities in league historical past, and added that his accomplishments went far past what he did on the court docket.
“For more than 30 years, Bob served as our global ambassador and as a special assistant to David Stern and then me, traveling the world to teach the game’s values and make a positive impact on young people everywhere,” Silver mentioned in a press release. “It was a labor of love for Bob, who was one of the kindest and most genuine people I have ever been around.”
Lanier went into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992. But his boat-size sneakers received there forward of him, with a show of his bronzed sneakers within the shrine.
He was recognized for sporting dimension 22 sneakers, though that was disputed in 1989 by a Converse consultant, who instructed The Atlanta Constitution that Lanier wore dimension 18 1/2.
“The 22 he was reputed to wear was a Korean size,” shoe rep Gary Stoken mentioned.
Not contested was the abundantly clear undeniable fact that his ft had been large.
“A lot of people can put both feet into one of my shoes,” Lanier instructed HOOP journal.
Born Sept. 10, 1948, in Buffalo, New York, Lanier starred in faculty at St. Bonaventure, the place he averaged 27.6 factors and 15.7 rebounds in three seasons. The Bonnies made all of it the best way to the Final Four in 1970, however Lanier had injured his knee within the regional closing, and St. Bonaventure misplaced within the nationwide semifinals to Jacksonville.
Lanier overcame a litany of orthopedic accidents, coping with shoulder, again, elbow, hand and toe issues throughout his profession. But that didn’t forestall him from incomes his place among the many high NBA facilities of his period. After being named to the all-rookie staff in 1971, he averaged a minimum of 21 factors and 11 rebounds for every of the subsequent seven seasons. Lanier was an eight-time All-Star and the MVP of the 1974 All-Star Game.
Lanier might beat opponents from the within and the skin whereas ruling the boards. Although Abdul-Jabbar had a extra well-known hook shot, the sky hook, Lanier’s was very a lot a weapon.
“Guys didn’t change teams as much, so when you were facing the Bulls or the Bucks or New York, you had all these rivalries,” Lanier instructed NBA.com in 2018. “Lanier against Jabbar! Jabbar against Willis Reed! And then (Wilt) Chamberlain, and Artis Gilmore, and Bill Walton! You had all these great big men and the game was played from inside out.”
As distinctive as Lanier was, the Pistons gained just one playoff sequence with him. He performed 64 video games or fewer in every of his final 4 full seasons with Detroit. In February 1980, he was traded to Milwaukee.
Lanier averaged fewer minutes with the Bucks, however he was a part of Milwaukee groups that reached the Eastern Conference finals in 1983 and 1984, the ultimate two seasons of his profession.
He additionally served as president of the gamers’ union in the course of the closing years of his profession, with Silver saying that he performed “a key role in the negotiation of a game-changing collective bargaining agreement.”
Lanier was Detroit’s profession chief in factors and rebounds earlier than he was handed by Isiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer in these classes, and his single-game franchise document of 33 rebounds was topped by Dennis Rodman.
In 1995, Lanier was an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors, then took over as coach on an interim foundation after Don Nelson resigned. Lanier went 12-25, and the Warriors discovered one other coach after the season.
Lanier gained the NBA’s J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award for the 1977-78 season for excellent group service. Following his enjoying profession, he helped begin the NBA’s Stay in School marketing campaign and took part in different outreach for the league.
“There’s so much need out here,” Lanier mentioned. “When you’re traveling around to different cities and different countries, you see there are so many people in dire straits that the NBA can only do so much. We make a vast, vast difference, but there’s always so much more to do.”