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NBA great Bob Lanier, who starred for Pistons, Bucks, dies at 73

NBA great Bob Lanier, who starred for Pistons, Bucks, dies at 73
Center Bob Lanier played for the Detroit Pistons from 1970-71 to 1979-80. Photo courtesy of the Detroit Pistons

May 11 (UPI) -- Basketball Hall of Famer Bob Lanier, who starred for the Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks in the 1970s and 1980s, died after a short illness, the NBA announced. He was 73.

The league said in a news release that Lanier died Tuesday while surrounded by his family.

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"For more than 30 years, Bob served as our global ambassador and as a special assistant to [former NBA commissioner] David Stern and then me, traveling the world to teach the game's values and make a positive impact on young people everywhere," NBA commissioner Adam Silver said.

"It was a labor of love for Bob, who was one of the kindest and most genuine people I have ever been around."

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Lanier was born Sept. 10, 1948, in Buffalo, N.Y. He went on to star at St. Bonaventure and was the No. 1 overall pick by the Pistons in the 1970 NBA Draft.

The eight-time All-Star remained with the Pistons until he was traded to the Bucks in 1980. He appeared in 72 games for Milwaukee in 1983-84, his final NBA season.

Lanier averaged 20.1 points, 10.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game for his career. He averaged a career-high 25.7 points per game in his second season. He also won 1973-74 All-Star Game MVP honors. The 6-foot-11 center finished third in MVP voting that same season, behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bob McAdoo.

Lanier's 22.7 points per game with the Pistons still rank as the most in franchise history. He also ranks second in made field goals, third in points, rebounds and triple-doubles, and fourth in blocks for the Eastern Conference franchise.

He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992. Lanier worked as an assistant coach from 1994 to 1995 with the Golden State Warriors. He later served as an interim coach when former coach Don Nelson resigned.

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