MILWAUKEE — Basketball big man Bob Lanier has died after a short illness. He was 73.
Lanier was one of the NBA’s top players of the 1970s, muscling up beside the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Lanier played 14 seasons with the Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks.
The left-hander averaged more than 20 points and 10 rebounds. He was the No. 1 draft pick in 1970 after leading St. Bonaventure to the Final Four.
In 1992, he made the Hall of Fame, where a bronzed pair of his giant sneakers is displayed.
The Bucks issued the following statement:
"Bob Lanier was an all-time great Milwaukee Buck and a Hall of Famer, whose retired No. 16 hangs in the rafters at Fiserv Forum. In his five seasons in Milwaukee (1980-84), Bob led the Bucks to Division titles each year and to two Eastern Conference Finals appearances in 1983 and 1984. But even more than his basketball success, which included his being an All-Star in 1982, Bob was one of the most popular players with Bucks fans and known throughout the community for his generosity and kindness. We send our deepest condolences to Bob’s family and friends."
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar posted the following on Twitter on Wednesday:
Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. released the following statement Thursday:
"One of the greatest centers to ever play in the NBA, Bob Lanier, Wednesday, May 11th, at the age of 73. Everyone who knew him genuinely described him as a gentle giant, a really nice person in addition to his basketball prowess.
He played college ball for St. Bonaventure and took them to the Final Four. He was the number one overall pick in the 1970 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons but ended his career as a Milwaukee Buck. He made seven NBA All-Star games and was elected to the NBA’s Hall of Fame.
Beyond his playing days he became the true Ambassador of the NBA as he travelled around the nation and the world inspiring
young people and using his basketball fame to inspire them to achieve their dreams whatever they were.
His family, the NBA and his friends will miss him as we pray with and for them during this time of mourning and grieving. but Bob Lanier can rest in peace because he left the world a better place than he found it."