Bob Lanier, the left-handed center who took on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar under the boards and established himself as one of the best players in the NBA in the 1970s, has died. He was 73 years old.
The NBA reported that Lanier died Tuesday after a short illness. The Hall of Famer worked for the league as a global ambassador. The Athletic reported in 2019 that Lanier was being treated for bladder cancer.
Lanier played 14 seasons with the Detroit Pistons and the Milwaukee Bucks. He averaged 20.1 points and 10.1 rebounds in his career. He ranks third in the Pistons’ all-time table in both points and rebounds.
Detroit took Lanier with the first pick in the 1970 draft after leading St. Bonaventure to the Final Four.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Lanier is among the most talented centers in league history, adding that his accomplishments exceed what he did on the court.
“For more than 30 years, Bob served as our global ambassador, and as a special assistant to David Stern and then to me, he traveled to all parts of the world teaching the values of basketball and making a positive impact on youth everywhere.” Silver said in a statement.
At 6.10 feet (2.08 meters) tall, Lanier was considered a giant during his time in the NBA and he capitalized on that advantage.
Lanier was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992. His massive sneakers were brought to the forefront, with a display of the bronze shoes in a pavilion.
She was said to wear size 22 shoes, but a Converse representative disputed the veracity of this by telling The Atlanta Constitution that Lanier was a size 18 1/2.
Lanier was elected to the All-Star Game eight times and was the MVP of the 1974 edition.