Former Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks center Bob Lanier, an eight-time All-Star and Hall of Famer, has died at the age of 73 according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. A decorated college and professional player, Lanier remained influential in the NBA following retirement. After his playing career ended, Lanier was an NBA Cares Global Ambassador of the NBA for 30 years, President of the Players Association, and special assistant to former Commissioner Davis Stern. He also served as an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors from 1994-1995.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in a press release sang praises for Lanier as not only one of the best bigs of all time, but as someone who connected people to the game of basketball. “Bob Lanier was a hall of fame player and among the most talented centers in the history of the NBA, but his impact on the league went far beyond what he accomplished on the court.”
“I learned so much from Bob by simply watching how he connected with people,” Silver continued. “He was a close friend who I will miss dearly, as will so many of his colleagues across the NBA who were inspired by his generosity. “
Lanier, the first overall pick in the 1970 NBA Draft out of St. Bonaventure, averaged 20.1 points and 10.1 rebounds per game over the course of 14 seasons in the league. Despite suffering several severe knee injuries, Lanier still put together an outstanding career and earned the reputation as an enforcer. His tenacity was well-known throughout the league. Just ask Bill Laimbeer.
In ten seasons with the Pistons, he averaged 22.7 points per game (still the team record) along with 11.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists, two blocks and 1.2 steals. He is second in team history in total rebounds and third in total points. Unquestionably, one of the greatest Detroit athletes of all time.
Off the court, Lanier was an outstanding citizen and ambassador of the game. He won the Walter J. Kennedy Citizenship award in 1978 for community service. In 1981, the YMCA gave him the Jackie Robinson Award for service to youth, good citizenship, and leadership. In 2000, Lanier was the recipient of the Congressional Horizon & Leadership Award, presented annually by the Joint Leadership Commission of the United States Congress to individuals who have made an impact on the lives of America’s young people.
Lanier passed after a short illness, surrounded by his family.
(All stats are from Basketball Reference unless otherwise noted)
(Featured image from NBAE via Getty Images)