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Hall Of Fame NBA Player Bob Lanier Dies At 73

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Basketball Hall of Famer Bob Lanier announces the Right Guard Total Defense Challenge at the NBA Store on January 27, 2010 in New York City.
Henry S. Dziekan III/Getty Images

NBA Hall of Fame player Bob Lanier passed away on Tuesday at the age of 73.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver released a statement noting that Lanier died following a short illness. Lanier was previously treated for bladder cancer in 2019.

“Bob Lanier was a Hall of Fame player and among 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 David Stern and then me, traveling the world to teach the game’s values and make a positive impact on young people everywhere,” Silver wrote.

“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 during 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,” Silver added.

Silver noted Lanier as a close friend and inspiration to many in the NBA and beyond.

“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,” Silver stated.

Lanier played for 14 seasons in the NBA and was an eight-time All-Star, playing for both the Detroit Pistons, who drafted him in 1970 from St. Bonaventure, and the Milwaukee Bucks.

“The Detroit Pistons organization is deeply saddened by the passing [of] Bob Lanier, a true legend who meant so much to the city of Detroit and to generations of Pistons fans,” Pistons owner Tom Gores said in a statement Wednesday.

“As fierce and as dominant as Bob was on the court, he was equally kind and impactful in the community,” Gores said. “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.”

The Milwaukee Bucks also released a statement following Lanier’s passing.

“Bob Lanier was known throughout the community for his generosity and kindness. His legacy is forever enshrined in the rafters at Fiserv Forum. We send our deepest condolences to Bob’s family and friends,” the team shared.

Lanier averaged 20.1 points and 10.1 rebounds over the course of his NBA career, according to the Associated Press. He also ranks third on the Pistons’ career list in both points and rebounds.

“Lanier was Detroit’s career leader in points and rebounds before he was passed by Isiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer in those categories, and his single-game franchise record of 33 rebounds was topped by Dennis Rodman,” the AP reported.

Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin recognized Lanier on Twitter following his passing.

“Bob Lanier’s passing is a sad loss for the Milwaukee @Bucks community. My heartfelt condolences to the Lanier family, including his son, and my friend, Pastor Walter Lanier who does such great work carrying on his father’s goodness serving our community,” Baldwin wrote.

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