The measure of a man’s life is in what he leaves behind. One basketball great has a legacy that will be remembered for the lives he touched on and off the court.
NBA Basketball Hall of Famer and eight-time All-Star Bob Lanier died Tuesday following a short illness, The Buffalo News reported. The 73-year-old had played for the Detroit Pistons and the Milwaukee Bucks during his 14-year career before becoming an NBA Cares Global Ambassador.
Lanier first made his mark on the sport as part of the 1970 St. Bonaventure Bonnies basketball team. The Buffalo native propelled his team to the Final Four.
However, Lanier never got to play in that game because he sustained a knee injury during a regional final against Villanova. Still in the hospital after the surgery, Lanier became the Detroit Piston’s No. 1 overall draft pick in the NBA.
After his storied career, Lanier became dedicated to giving back to the sport. Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores was one of the many associated with his former team to remember Lanier fondly.
“As fierce and as dominant as Bob was on the court, he was equally kind and impactful in the community,” Gores said in a statement. “As an ambassador for both the Pistons organization and the NBA, he represented our league, our franchise and our fans with great passion and integrity,” he said.
“All of us who love the game of basketball are hurting with the loss of Bob Lanier. He was one of the greatest centers to play the game and one of the toughest and fiercest competitors,” Piston’s legend Isiah Thomas said, according to Fox News. Later, Thomas added that he was “grateful for his friendship and mentorship.”
By all accounts, Lanier was a great man whose basketball skills were only rivaled by his charity. Lanier touched the lives of his teammates, the fans, and the families and youth he helped through his ambassadorship.