cloudy.png
Wednesday June 29th, 2022 12:43PM

Bob Lanier, NBA force who left big shoes to fill, dies at 73

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

Bob Lanier, the left-handed big man who muscled up beside the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as one of the NBA’s top players of the 1970s, has died. He was 73.

The NBA said Lanier died Tuesday after a short illness. The Hall of Famer had worked for the league as a global ambassador. The Athletic reported in 2019 that Lanier was being treated for bladder cancer.

Lanier played 14 seasons with the Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks and averaged 20.1 points and 10.1 rebounds for his career. He is third on the Pistons’ career list in both points and rebounds. Detroit drafted Lanier with the No. 1 overall pick in 1970 after he led St. Bonaventure to the Final Four.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Lanier was among the most talented centers in league history, and added that his accomplishments went far beyond what he did on the court.

“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 said in a statement. “It was a labor of love for Bob, who was one of the kindest and most genuine people I have ever been around.”

At 6-foot-10 and 250 pounds, Lanier was considered a big man during his time and used that bulk to his advantage.

“Bob Lanier will always be one of the big men of basketball,” Abdul-Jabbar said in a statement posted on social media. “Not just because of the size of his body but because of the size of his heart.”

Lanier went into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992. But his boat-size shoes got there ahead of him, with a display of his bronzed sneakers in the shrine.

He was known for wearing size 22 shoes, although that was disputed in 1989 by a Converse representative, who told The Atlanta Constitution that Lanier wore size 18 1/2.

“The 22 he was reputed to wear was a Korean size,” shoe rep Gary Stoken said.

Not contested was the abundantly clear fact that his feet were big.

“A lot of people can put both feet into one of my shoes,” Lanier told HOOP magazine.

Born Sept. 10, 1948, in Buffalo, New York, Lanier starred in college at St. Bonaventure, where he averaged 27.6 points and 15.7 rebounds in three seasons. The Bonnies made it all the way to the Final Four in 1970, but Lanier had injured his knee in the regional final, and St. Bonaventure lost in the national semifinals to Jacksonville.

Lanier overcame a litany of orthopedic injuries, dealing with shoulder, back, elbow, hand and toe problems during his career. But that didn’t prevent him from earning his place among the top NBA centers of his era. After being named to the all-rookie team in 1971, he averaged at least 21 points and 11 rebounds for each of the next seven seasons. Lanier was an eight-time All-Star and the MVP of the 1974 All-Star Game.

He remains the Pistons' franchise leader in scoring average at 22.7 points per game, beloved in Detroit for both his fierceness and friendliness.

“As fierce and as dominant as Bob was on the court, he was equally kind and impactful in the community,” the Pistons said. "As an ambassador for both the Pistons organization and the NBA, he represented our league, our franchise and our fans with great passion and integrity. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Bob’s family and friends.”

Lanier could beat opponents from the inside and the outside while ruling the boards. Although Abdul-Jabbar had a more famous hook shot, the sky hook, Lanier’s was very much 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 told 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 exceptional as Lanier was, the Pistons won only one playoff series with him. He played 64 games or fewer in each of his last four full seasons with Detroit. In February 1980, he was traded to Milwaukee.

Lanier averaged fewer minutes with the Bucks, but he was part of Milwaukee teams that reached the Eastern Conference finals in 1983 and 1984, the final two seasons of his career.

“Even more than his basketball success, which included his being an All-Star in 1982, Bob was one of the most popular players with Bucks fans and known throughout the community for his generosity and kindness,” the Bucks said in a statement.

He also served as president of the players’ union during the final years of his career, with Silver saying that he played “a key role in the negotiation of a game-changing collective bargaining agreement.”

Lanier was Detroit’s career leader in points and rebounds before he was passed by Isiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer in those categories, and his single-game franchise record of 33 rebounds was topped by Dennis Rodman.

“All of us who love the game of basketball are hurting with the loss of Bob Lanier," Thomas said. “He was one of the greatest centers to play the game and one of the toughest and fiercest competitors.

“Just as he impacted the game on the court, Bob was one of the game’s greatest ambassadors. His class and caring for others set a great example for so many to follow."

In 1995, Lanier was an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors, then took over as coach on an interim basis after Don Nelson resigned. Lanier went 12-25, and the Warriors found another coach after the season.

Lanier won the NBA’s J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award for the 1977-78 season for outstanding community service. Following his playing career, he helped start the NBA’s Stay in School campaign and participated in other outreach for the league.

“There’s so much need out here,” Lanier said. “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.”

___

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Basketball, AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Sports - NBA
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
House approves $40B in Ukraine aid, beefing up Biden request
The House has emphatically approved a fresh $40 billion Ukraine aid package that beefs up President Joe Biden’s initial request
1:13AM ( 16 minutes ago )
Ukrainians make gains in east, hold on at Mariupol mill
Ukraine’s natural gas pipeline operator said Wednesday it would stop Russian shipments through a key hub in the east of the country
1:13AM ( 16 minutes ago )
US Interior to release report on Indigenous boarding schools
The U.S. Interior Department is expected to release a report Wednesday that it says will begin to uncover the truth about the federal government's past oversight of Native American boarding schools
1:13AM ( 16 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Tarasenko hat trick helps Blues take 3-2 series lead on Wild
Vladimir Tarasenko had three goals in the third period to break open a tied game and series, and the St. Louis Blues pushed the Minnesota Wild to the edge of elimination with a 5-2 victory in Game 5
12:26AM ( 1 hour ago )
Angels lefty Reid Detmers has no-hitter thru 8 against Rays
Los Angeles Angels rookie Reid Detmers has a no-hitter through eight innings against the Tampa Bay Rays, a bid that survived a borderline error call in the seventh
11:58PM ( 1 hour ago )
Verlander loses no-hitter in 8th, Astros beat Twins 5-0
Justin Verlander missed out on his fourth no-hitter by five outs but still faced the minimum through eight innings, and the Houston Astros beat the Minnesota Twins 5-0 for their eighth straight win
11:54PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Sports
Pivotal Game 5s on tap for Bucks-Celtics, Warriors-Grizzlies
Grizzlies star Ja Morant is out for Game 5 with a bone bruise in his right knee
9:43PM ( 3 hours ago )
Grizzlies star Ja Morant doubtful for rest of NBA playoffs
The Memphis Grizzlies say All-Star guard Ja Morant is doubtful for the remainder of the postseason after an MRI and further evaluation revealed a bone bruise in his injured right knee
6:48PM ( 6 hours ago )
Ja Morant doubtful for rest of NBA playoffs with bone bruise
The Memphis Grizzlies say All-Star guard Ja Morant is doubtful for the remainder of the postseason after an MRI and further evaluation revealed a bone bruise in his injured right knee
6:44PM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Online Basketball
Grizzlies guard Ja Morant out with knee injury for Game 4
Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant is out for Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Warriors with a right knee injury
9:10PM ( 1 day ago )
Warriors coach Steve Kerr out with COVID-19, Brown steps in
Warriors coach Steve Kerr tested positive for COVID-19 and will be replaced by associate head coach Mike Brown on the bench for Golden State in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Memphis Grizzlies
8:32PM ( 1 day ago )
Suns' Williams voted NBA Coach of the Year after 64 wins
Monty Williams has won NBA Coach of the Year after leading the Phoenix Suns to a franchise-record 64 wins during the regular season
7:23PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Sports - NBA
House approves $40B in Ukraine aid, beefing up Biden request
The House has emphatically approved a fresh $40 billion Ukraine aid package that beefs up President Joe Biden’s initial request
1:13AM ( 16 minutes ago )
Ukrainians make gains in east, hold on at Mariupol mill
Ukraine’s natural gas pipeline operator said Wednesday it would stop Russian shipments through a key hub in the east of the country
1:13AM ( 16 minutes ago )
US Interior to release report on Indigenous boarding schools
The U.S. Interior Department is expected to release a report Wednesday that it says will begin to uncover the truth about the federal government's past oversight of Native American boarding schools
1:13AM ( 16 minutes ago )
Live updates | Pipeline operator to stop natural gas flow
Ukraine’s natural gas pipeline operator said it would stop Russian shipments through its Novopskov hub in a part of eastern Ukraine controlled by Moscow-backed separatists
1:00AM ( 29 minutes ago )
Angels rookie Reid Detmers throws no-hitter against Rays
Angels rookie Reid Detmers pitched the majors’ second no-hitter this season, cruising after he benefitted from a borderline error call in the seventh inning as Los Angeles beat the Tampa Bay Rays 12-0
12:54AM ( 35 minutes ago )