In the middle of the NBA playoffs, some sad news emerged on Tuesday night with the passing of a legend. Bob Lanier, who played 14 seasons with the Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks and was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992, has died at the age of 73.
“Bob Lanier was a Hall of Fame player and one of the most talented centers in the history of the NBA, but his impact on the league went far beyond what he accomplished on the court. For more than 30 years, Bob served as our global ambassador and as a special assistant to [former commissioner] David Stern and then me, traveling the world to teach the game’s values, and make a positive impact on young people everywhere.
“It was a labor of love for Bob, who was one of the kindest and most genuine people I have ever been around. His enormous influence on the NBA was also seen in his time as President of the National Basketball Players Association, where he played a key role in the negotiation of a game-changing collective bargaining agreement.
“I learned so much from Bob by simply watching how he connected with people. 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. We send our deepest condolences to Bob’s family and friends.”
Lanier was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1970 draft, and he averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds for his career. He also served on the voting panel for the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team, which was announced last October.