Bob Lanier, Hall of Fame center for Pistons and Bucks, dead at 73
Bob Lanier, the former Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks center who averaged more than 20 points and 10 rebounds per game during a dominant Hall of Fame career, has died at age 73.
The eight-time All-Star battled a short illness before his death on Tuesday, the NBA announced Wednesday.
“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,” NBA Commissioner Adam 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.”
The 6-foot-10 Lanier, who was born in Buffalo, was the first overall pick in the 1970 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons and quickly emerged as a star, making the all-rookie team in 1971.
Lanier scored 25.7 points per game in his second season — the highest mark of his career — and also averaged 14.2 rebounds that year. He set a new career-best with 14.9 rebounds per game the following season.
The hulking center with a rumored size-22 shoe was an All-Star in seven of his 10 seasons with the Pistons, and averaged at least 21 points per game eight times with the team. His career average of 22.7 points per game with Detroit is the best in team history.
Lanier was traded mid-season from the Pistons to the Bucks in 1980 and played five seasons with Milwaukee, making his final All-Star team in 1982.
His No. 16 is retired by both the Pistons and the Bucks, and he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992. He averaged 20.1 points and 10.1 rebounds across his 14 seasons and was a 51.4% shooter for his career.
“His enormous influence on the NBA was also seen during his time as President of the National Basketball Players Association, where he played a key role in the negotiation of a game-changing collective bargaining agreement,” Silver said.
“I learned so much from Bob by simply watching how he connected with people. 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. We send our deepest condolences to Bob’s family and friends.”