Bob Lanier with Philip & Noel Nelson. NBA All Star Week. New Orleans, LA NBA

Bob Lanier, NBA star who left big shoes to fill, dies at 73

Bob Lanier, NBA star who left big shoes to fill, dies at 73

  • Pistons
  • Bucks
May 13
SW Creative
  • SportsWriters

Bob Lanier, the great left-hander who established himself as one of the best players in the NBA in the 1970s, died Tuesday.

Lanier, born Sept. 10, 1948, in Buffalo, New York, starred in college at St. Bonaventure, where he averaged 27.6 points and 15.7 rebounds in three
seasons. St. Bonaventure reached the Final Four in 1970, but Lanier was injured in the regional final, and they lost to Jacksonville in the semifinals.

In 1970, he was drafted by the Detroit Pistons as the first overall pick in the draft. After being named to the all rookie team in 1971, over the next seven seasons, Lanier averaged at least 21 points and 11 rebounds per game. He remains the franchise leader for the Pistons in scoring average at 22.7 points per game.

I haven’t been blessed with great jumping ability or speed, so I’ve had to utilize my assets. Without being physical, I wouldn’t have survived in this league.

- Bob Lanier

Pistons All-Time Points Leaders: Career Per Game Average in the Regular Season - Top 1

Player PPG Total Points Seasons Games
1. Bob Lanier 22.74 15,488 10 681
2. Dave Bing 22.57 15,235 9 675
3. Jerry Stackhouse 22.11 7,451 5 337
4. Grant Hill 21.59 9,393 6 435
5. Kelly Tripucka 21.58 7,597 5 352

"Guys didn’t change teams as much, so when you were facing the Bulls or the Bucks or New York, you had all these rivalries," Lanier told in 2018. "Lanier against (Kareem Abdul) Jabbar! Jabbar against Willis Reed! And then (Wilt) Chamberlain, and Artis Gilmore, and Bill Walton! You had all these great big men and the game was played from inside out."

- Bob Lanier

Dickie V Coached In The NBA?

Dick Vitale became the head coach of the Detroit Pistons  in the 1978–79 Detroit Pistons season, leading them to a 30–52 (.366) record. The team was built around Hall of Fame center Bob Lanier and swingman M.L. Carr.  Lanier was an NBA veteran and he didn’t warm to Vitale’s rah-rah college style of coaching.

Bob Lanier Led A Full Life

After his playing days, Lanier became a businessman who launched a promotional marketing company. As well as being a global ambassador for NBA Cares, he also served as chairman and spokesperson for the NBA’s Stay In School initiative.

"As fierce and as dominant as Bob was on the court, he was equally kind and impactful in the community. 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. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Bob’s family and friends."

- Detroit Pistons Release Statement

"I've always admired him because he comes to play with injuries. He’s a guy who’d do anything to win. He’s never been with a winner, unfortunately, but he is a winner.”

- Chris Ford

  • Bob Lanier

    Robert Jerry Lanier Jr. was an American professional basketball player who was a center for the Detroit Pistons and the Milwaukee Bucks of the National Basketball Association .