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

Bob Lanier, Buffalo native and NBA power who left large sneakers to fill, dies at 73

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(AP) — Bob Lanier, the left-handed large man who muscled up beside the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as one of many NBA’s prime gamers of the Seventies, died Tuesday. He was 73.

The NBA mentioned Lanier died after a brief sickness. The Corridor of Famer had labored for the league as a worldwide 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’s third on the Pistons’ profession checklist in each factors and rebounds. Detroit drafted Lanier with the No. 1 total choose in 1970 after he led St. Bonaventure to the Ultimate 4.

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 greater than 30 years, Bob served as our international ambassador and as a particular assistant to David Stern after which me, touring the world to show the sport’s values ​​and make a optimistic affect on younger individuals in all places,” Silver mentioned in a press release. “It was a labor of affection for Bob, who was one of many kindest and most real individuals I’ve ever been round.”

Lanier went into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Corridor of Fame in 1992. However his boat-size sneakers acquired there forward of him, with a show of his bronzed sneakers within the shrine.

He was recognized for carrying measurement 22 sneakers, though that was disputed in 1989 by a Converse consultant, who advised The Atlanta Structure that Lanier wore measurement 18 1/2.

“The 22 he was reputed to put on was a Korean measurement,” shoe rep Gary Stoken mentioned.

Not contested was the abundantly clear proven fact that his ft have been large.

“Lots of people can put each ft into one in all my sneakers,” Lanier advised 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 Ultimate 4 in 1970, however Lanier had injured his knee within the regional ultimate, 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. However that did not stop him from incomes his place among the many prime NBA facilities of his period. After being named to the all-rookie group in 1971, he averaged at the least 21 factors and 11 rebounds for every of the following seven seasons. Lanier was an eight-time All-Star and the MVP of the 1974 All-Star Recreation.

He stays the Pistons’ franchise chief in scoring common at 22.7 factors per recreation, beloved in Detroit for each his fierceness and friendliness.

“As fierce and as dominant as Bob was on the court docket, he was equally form and impactful locally,” the Pistons mentioned. “As an envoy for each the Pistons group and the NBA, he represented our league, our franchise and our followers with nice ardour and integrity. We prolong our heartfelt condolences to Bob’s household and associates.”

Lanier may beat opponents from the within and the skin whereas ruling the boards. Though Abdul-Jabbar had a extra well-known hook shot, the sky hook, Lanier’s was very a lot a weapon.

“Guys did not change groups as a lot, so whenever you have been dealing with the Bulls or the Bucks or New York, you had all these rivalries,” Lanier advised in 2018. “Lanier in opposition to Jabbar! Jabbar in opposition to Willis Reed! After which (Wilt) Chamberlain, and Artis Gilmore, and Invoice Walton! You had all these nice large males and the sport was performed from inside out.”

As distinctive as Lanier was, the Pistons received 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 Japanese Convention finals in 1983 and 1984, the ultimate two seasons of his profession.

He additionally served as president of the gamers’ union throughout the ultimate years of his profession, with Silver saying that he performed “a key function within the negotiation of a game-changing collective bargaining settlement.”

Lanier was Detroit’s profession chief in factors and rebounds earlier than he was handed by Isiah Thomas and Invoice Laimbeer in these classes, and his single-game franchise report 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 received 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 Keep in Faculty marketing campaign and took part in different outreach for the league.

“There’s a lot want out right here,” Lanier mentioned. “Whenever you’re touring round to totally different cities and totally different international locations, you see there are such a lot of individuals in dire straits that the NBA can solely achieve this a lot. We make an unlimited, huge distinction, however there’s all the time a lot extra to do.”