Former Pistons, Bucks Hall of Famer Lanier dies at 73
Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Bob Lanier died Tuesday at age 73 following a short illness, the NBA confirmed.
Choosing to play collegiately at St. Bonaventure due to the school's proximity to his hometown of Buffalo, the 6-foot-11 center was the crown jewel of a program that advanced to a national semifinal game in 1970.
The Bonnies fell short of competing for the championship that year largely due to Lanier suffering a season-ending knee injury, his first of many that hampered a still-dazzling pro career.
Despite the injury, the Detroit Pistons selected Lanier with the first overall pick in the 1970 draft, and he played parts of 10 seasons with the franchise.
The Pistons traded Lanier to the Milwaukee Bucks in February 1980, and he retired in 1984 with career averages of 20.1 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.5 blocks, and 1.1 steals per game. He was named to the All-Star Game on eight occasions, winning MVP honors in the 1974 exhibition.
Lanier was enshrined into the Basketball Hall of Fame as part of the 1992 class.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said that Lanier's "impact on the league went far beyond what he accomplished on the court," noting his 30 years as the league's global ambassador and special assistant to Silver and his late predecessor David Stern.
"I learned so much from Bob by simply watching how he connected with people," Silver added. "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."