One of the top NBA players of the 1970s, Bob Lanier, has died at 73. The basketball legend passed away yesterday (May 10).
During his awe-inspiring career, left-handed Lanier could be seen taking on other top athletes such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
According to the NBA, Lanier’s passing came after a short battle with an illness. In 2019, reports circulated that Lanier was being treated for bladder cancer. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver released a statement on his death.
“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. It was a labor of love for Bob, who was one of the kindest and most genuine people I have ever been around,” Silver announced.
The hall of famer was born in Buffalo, New York on Sept. 10, 1948. Since then, Lanier racked up an impressive resume. While attending St. Bonaventure college, he averaged 27.6 points and 15.7 rebounds in three seasons.
Lanier was drafted by the Detroit Pistons as the No. 1 overall pick in 1970 after leading St. Bonaventure to the Final Four. He played with the Pistons for 14 seasons. He also played for the Milwaukee Bucks, where he averaged 20.1 points and 10.1 rebounds throughout his career.
In 1992, the giant found himself in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. A display of his bronzed sneakers is in the shrine to honor the basketball trailblazer.
Lanier once told HOOP magazine, “A lot of people can put both feet into one of my shoes.” For years, it was rumored that Lanier wore a size 22 shoe. In 1989, reps at Converse dismissed those claims, stating the athlete wore a size 18 1/2.
During his career, Lanier struggled with many orthopedic injuries including shoulder, back, elbow, hand and toe issues. None of this stopped him from becoming one of the best NBA centers in history.
In addition to all of his accolades, Lanier was an eight-time All-Star and the MVP of the 1974 All-Star Game.