On Tuesday, Bob Lanier died, a left-hander, a large man who gained muscle alongside people like Karim Abdul-Jabar as one of the best NBA players of the 1970s. He was 73 years old.
The NBA said Lanier died after a short illness. Hall of Fame worked in the league as a global ambassador. In 2019, Athletic reported that Lanier was being treated for bladder cancer.
Lanier has played 14 seasons for the Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks and has averaged 20.1 points and 10.1 rebounds in his career. He ranks third on the Pistons career list in both points and rebounds. They drafted Lanier at number 1 in 1970 after he led Saint-Bonaventure to the Final Four.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Lanier was one of the most talented center-backs in league history, adding that his accomplishments went far beyond what he did on the court.
“For more than 30 years, Bob has served as our global ambassador and special aide to David Stern and then me, traveling the world to teach the values of the game and make a positive impact on young people around the world,” Silver said in a statement. “It was a work of love for Bob, who was one of the kindest and truest people I’ve ever been around.”
Lanier entered the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Memorial in 1992. But his boat-sized shoes were ahead of him with a display of his bronze sneakers at the shrine.
He was known to wear size 22 shoes, although this was disputed in 1989 by a Converse spokesman who told the Atlanta Constitution that Lanier wore size 18½.
“The 22 that he is known to have worn was Korean in size,” said Gary Stoken, a spokesman for the footwear.
It was not disputed the obvious fact that his legs were large.
“A lot of people can put both feet in one of my shoes,” Lanier told Hoop magazine.
Born on September 10, 1948 in Buffalo, New York, Lanier performed at the College of St. Bonaventure, where he averaged 27.6 points and 15.7 rebounds in three seasons. Bonnie reached the Final Four in 1970, but Lanier injured his knee in the regional final, and Saint-Bonaventure lost in the semi-finals to Artis Gilmar and Jacksonville.
During his career, Lanier overcame a number of orthopedic injuries, dealing with problems of the shoulder, back, elbow, arms and legs. But that didn’t stop him from earning a spot among the best NBA centers of his era. After joining the rookie team in 1971, he averaged at least 21 points and 11 rebounds in each of the following seven seasons. He participated in the All-Star Game eight times and was the MVP of the 1974 All-Star Game.
Lanier could defeat opponents inside and out by controlling the boards. Although Abdul Jabar had a better known shot from the hook, the celestial hook, Lanye had very many weapons.
“The guys didn’t change teams that much, so when you faced the Bulls, the Bucks or the New York, you had all this rivalry,” Lanier told NBA.com in 2018. “Lanier vs. Jabar! Jabber against Willis Reed! And then (Wilt) Chamberlain and Artis Gilmar and Bill Walton! You had all these great great people, and the game was played upside down. ”
As exceptional as Lanier was, the Pistons won with him only one playoff series. He has played 64 games or less in each of the last four full seasons in Detroit. In February 1980, he was traded to Bucks.
Lanier averaged fewer minutes with the Bucks, but was part of teams from Milwaukee that reached the Eastern Conference finals in 1983 and 1984, the last two seasons of his career.
He also served as president of the Players’ Union in the final years of his career, and Silver said Lanier played “a key role in negotiating a collective agreement that would change the game.”
Lanier was the leader in the Pistons’ career in points and rebounds before being beaten by Izia Thomas and Bill Laimbir in those categories, and his record in one game in 33 rebounds was led by Dennis Rodman.
In 1995, Lanier was assistant coach of the Golden State Warriors and then temporarily took over as coach after Don Nelson resigned. Lanier went 12-25, and the Warriors found another coach after the season.
Lanier received the NBA Award named after J. Walter Kennedy in the 1977-78 season for outstanding community service. After his playing career, he helped start the NBA’s “Stay in School” campaign and participated in other activities for the league.
“So much is needed here,” Lanier said. “When you travel to different cities and different countries, you see that so many people are in a difficult situation that the NBA can only do so much. We make a huge, big difference, but there is always a lot to do. ”