Skip to main content

Bob Lanier: A great career without the greatest prize

When Bob Lanier ended his basketball career in 1984 after 14 years in the NBA, he joked that he did so only because the Milwaukee Bucks had finally found in Alton Lister another player who literally could fill his sneakers. One of the game's greatest big men, Lanier was actually preceded into the Hall of Fame by a bronzed pair of his shoes, the biggest the NBA had ever seen.

"A lot of people can put both feet into one of my shoes."

With a sweeping left-hand hook and a dominating inside presence, Bob Lanier was one of the most feared big men of his era. Opposing centers had to keep a watchful eye on Lanier because he had an equally impressive outside game. His sweet shooting touch from the perimeter placed him in a rarified class of being a true inside/outside force. This ability, combined with his single-minded determination to win, helped Lanier lead tiny St. Bonaventure University to the 1970 NCAA Final Four. Lanier still holds school records for scoring (27.6 PPG) and rebounding (15.7 RPG).

Lanier excelled in an era of outstanding centers such as Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Willis Reed, Dave Cowens, and Bill Walton. In his 14 NBA seasons, Lanier averaged 20.1 points and 10.1 rebounds per game while shooting a respectable 51.4 percent from the field. Yet despite Lanier's Hall of Fame numbers (he was inducted in 1992) with the Pistons and the Bucks, he never realized his greatest aspiration: to put a championship ring on his finger.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

"I accomplished most of the individual goals I ever dreamed of in this game," he said in the Milwaukee Sentinel the year he retired. "But the ultimate reward is to be crowned champions. And if you don't know what that feeling is, I think it leaves a void."

He played in eight NBA All-Star Games and was named Most Valuable Player of the 1974 game. He has had his #16 jersey retired by both the Pistons and the Bucks.

Portland TrailBlazers' legends: Clyde Drexler and Damian Billard

“From that moment, I knew it was possible”- Damian Lillard on passing Clyde Drexler’s Trail Blazers scoring record

Damian Lillard is set to break Clyde Drexler's Portland Trail Blazer scoring record next season.

serge-ibaka-derek-fisher-min

Serge Ibaka shares an important lesson he learned from Derek Fisher

Ibaka is the type of player who never settles with what is in front of him. He constantly absorbs everything he feels will be beneficial for him. In the process, he became humbler and wiser

New York Knicks center Patrick Ewing

"I got aroused" — When Patrick Ewing testified in a strip club trial

Patrick Ewing admitted visiting the Atlanta strip club 10 times. His first time was in 1996 when he was in town for the Olympic Games

New York Knicks forward Latrell Sprewell

"One of the misconceptions about me is that I have this attitude problem" - Latrell Sprewell opens up about his off-court personality

Latrell Sprewell stressed that his fearless attitude on the court was far from who he was off of it.

LeBron-James-Jerry-West

Jerry West on how the Memphis Grizzlies almost picked LeBron James

Before Jerry West became general manager, the Memphis Grizzlies made a trade that hurt their chances in the 2003 NBA Draft.

Brooklyn Nets forward Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin is not the solution to the Boston Celtics' woes

Blake Griffin is already past his prime and there's little he could do to impact the Boston Celtics' title aspirations next season.

Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden

James Harden explains why he considers himself  "one of the most unselfish players ever"

James Harden talks about the upcoming NBA season for the Philadelphia 76ers, while also opening up about his mindset and the time he spent playing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving for the Brooklyn Nets

New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul

"I'm a point guard and I'm that good" - Chris Paul's simple reply to a Hornets teammate who was baffled by his skills

Former New Orleans Hornets forward Jason Smith got an epic response from Chris Paul when he asked him how could he read the game while on the floor.