The Forgotten One: Lafayette “Fat” Lever

The Forgotten One: Lafayette “Fat” Lever

When it is talked about the great Denver Nuggets players, we remember Dana Issel, the “Skywalker” David Thompson, Alex English, Dikembe Mutombo, and their last superstar Carmelo Anthony.

A few people will mention the name of playmaker Lafayette “Fat” Lever, a player who was the triple-double machine in the run’n’gun team from Colorado during the ’80s.

Lafayette “Fat” Lever was the ultimate basketball player.

As his former coach Doug Moe once said: “There wasn’t a phase of the game he couldn’t play.”

Originally selected 11th overall by Portland in 1982, Lever spent two seasons with the Trail Blazers before being traded to Denver as part of a four-player deal that sent Kiki Vandeweghe to the Portland on June 7, 1984.

Lever was averaging 2,8 points, 7,5 assists, 5,0 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in his first season in Denver. Those numbers were just a preview of things to come. Lever went on to post 46 triple-doubles (including three in the playoffs) while with the Nuggets, he attributed his impressive stats to hard work and a great supporting cast of teammates.

In 1985, Nuggets won 52 games and advanced to the Western Conference finals. In Denver’s second-round series game against the Utah Jazz, Lever scored 19 points and added 16 rebounds and a franchise playoff-record 18 assists.

Lever represented the Nuggets twice at the NBA All-Star Game before being traded to the Dallas Mavericks on June 21, 1990. After retiring in 1994, Lever worked in real estate and later started his own construction business in Phoenix.

Lever recorded his first career 20-20 game in 1988, finishing with 20 points and 20 rebounds to lead the Nuggets to a 99-81 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers at McNichols Arena. Lever added 10 assists and six steals as part of a remarkable all-around performance. Among Lever’s career achievements were making two NBA All-Star teams, an All-NBA Second Team in 1987, and an All-Defensive Second Team in 1988. Lever was one of the NBA’s most complete players, evidenced by the fact that he is the only NBA player so far to average over 14 points, 6 assists, 6 rebounds, and 2 steals per game for his whole career. On October 10, 2017, the Denver Nuggets announced that they will retire Lever’s number #12 jersey. The ceremony took place during a home game against the Los Angeles Lakers on December 2, 2017.