Lanier in 2004
|Born||September 10, 1948|
Buffalo, New York
|Listed height||6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)|
|Listed weight||250 lb (113 kg)|
|High school||Bennett (Buffalo, New York)|
|College||St. Bonaventure (1967–1970)|
|NBA draft||1970 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1st overall|
|Selected by the Detroit Pistons|
|1994–1995||Golden State Warriors (assistant)|
|1995||Golden State Warriors (interim)|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Points||19,248 (20.1 ppg)|
|Rebounds||9,698 (10.1 rpg)|
|Blocks||1,100 (1.5 bpg)|
|Stats at NBA.com|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
|Basketball Hall of Fame as player|
|College Basketball Hall of Fame|
Inducted in 2006
Robert Jerry Lanier Jr. (born September 10, 1948) is an American former professional basketball player who played for the Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Lanier was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992.
In his 14 NBA seasons, Lanier averaged 20.1 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.5 blocks, and 1.1 steals while shooting 51.4 percent from the field. 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 and his #31 jersey retired by St. Bonaventure University. Lanier is an NBA ambassador.
Robert Jerry Lanier Jr. was born on September 10, 1948, in Buffalo, New York, the son of Robert Sr. and Nannette Lanier.
Growing up in Buffalo, Lanier initially was rejected in his basketball efforts. Trying out for his grammar school team, Lanier was told by a coach that his feet ( size 11 at age 11) were too large for him to be a successful athlete. Although he was 6-foot-5 by age 16, Lanier didn't make the varsity basketball squad in his sophomore year at Bennett High School under coach Nick Mogavero because he was deemed too clumsy.
In his junior year, he was encouraged to try out again by new coach Fred Schwepker, who had Lanier in Biology class. Lanier tried out again. Lanier averaged 21.5 points for Bennett High School and was named to the All-City team as a junior. In his senior year, he averaged 25.0 points and he earned All-Western New York State honors. Both years he led Bennett to Buffalo city titles. After his successes under coach Schwepker, Lanier graduated in 1966.
Lanier was initially rejected by his first college choice, Buffalo's Canisius College, because of his grades. But, as he was recruited by more than 100 other schools, he then elected to attend St. Bonaventure University, in Allegany, New York, under Coach Larry Weise.
“There was recruiting competition, but the advantage I had, and what I sold was that his parents could come watch him play,’’ Said Coach Weise. “He picked St. Bonaventure. His parents were at every game.’’
Lanier was a three-time Converse All-America selection (1968–1970), playing for coach Weise at St. Bonaventure. In 1970, he led the St. Bonaventure to the NCAA Final Four. He injured his knee near the end of the regional championship game in a collision with Villanova's Chris Ford and did not participate in St. Bonaventure's National Semifinal loss to Jacksonville University with center Artis Gilmore. That year he was named Coach and Athlete Magazine player of the year, and the ECAC Player of the Year.
As a 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m) sophomore in the 1967–68 season, after having played on the freshman team the previous year per NCAA rules at the time, Lanier made an immediate national impact, as he led the St. Bonaventure (13–9 in the previous season) to an undefeated regular season (26–0) and a no. 3 final poll ranking. Lanier averaged 26.2 points and 15.6 rebounds. Against Loyola Maryland, Lanier had 27 rebounds, leading St. Bonaventure to a 94–78 victory.
In the 23-team 1968 NCAA Tournament, Lanier led St. Bonaventure to a 102–93 victory over Boston College and coach Bob Cousy. The Bonies were then defeated 91–72 by North Carolina and coach Dean Smith in the East Regional Semifinal, ending their undefeated season. Lanier had 32 points and 15 rebounds in the victory over Boston College and 23 points with 9 rebounds in the North Carolina loss. Lanier then fouled out, scoring 18 points with 13 rebounds in the third-place East Region game, a 92–75 loss to Columbia.
Lanier was named second-team All-American, behind Lew Alcindor at center.
In the 1968–69 season, St. Bonaventure finished 17–7 without any postseason invitations, after starting the season 3–5. Against Seton Hall, Lanier scored 51 points, the single-game scoring record for St. Bonaventure. Lanier, averaged 27.3 points and 15.6 rebounds in 24 games.
Lanier was again named second-team All-American, behind Lew Alcindor at center.
During his junior year, Lanier was approached by representatives of the American Basketball Association's New York Nets, who reportedly offered him $1.2 million to leave school early and join the ABA. However, following his father's advice, Lanier chose to remain in school.
Lanier averaged 29.2 points and 16.0 rebounds as St. Bonaventure finished the 1969–70 regular season 25–1 (with the only loss at Villanova 64–62) and a no. 3 national ranking.
In the 25-team 1970 NCAA Tournament, Lanier led St. Bonaventure to an 80–72 victory over Davidson College with 28 points and 15 rebounds; he had 24 points and 19 rebounds in an 80–68 victory over NC State, and 26 points and 14 rebounds in the 97–74 victory over Villanova, as St. Bonaventure to advanced to the Final Four.
However, Lanier injured his knee near the end of the regional championship game in a collision with Villanova's Chris Ford. It was severe enough that he could not play in the Final Four and eventually required surgery, the first of eight surgeries on Lanier's knees.
In the Final Four, the Bonnies lost to Jacksonville University with future Hall of Fame center Artis Gilmore. St. Bonaventure was whistled for 32 personal fouls and outscored 37–15 at the free-throw line, in the 91–83 loss. In the third-place game, the Bonnies lost to NM State to finish the season 25–3.
"Every year at this time you start thinking about it and my players start thinking about it," reflected Coach Larry Weise at age 81. "We have a reunion every three, four years and it’s the same with them. It was a magical moment in our lives, no question. In our hearts, we knew we were good enough to win the championship."
"I think I appreciate it even more than my (college) teammates," Lanier reflected on the Final Four in 1985, "because I had a basis for comparison. It wasn't the money, or who got the 'numbers' like in the NBA. We weren't any big stars, it was a couple of guys from Buffalo and a guy from Troy all blending together."
Lanier was named first-team All-American at center, alongside future Hall of Famers Dan Issel (Kentucky), Pete Maravich (LSU) and Calvin Murphy (Niagara), along with College Basketball Hall of Famer Rick Mount (Purdue). Lanier graduated from St. Bonaventure with a degree in business administration.
Lanier holds St. Bonaventure records for scoring and rebounding, averaging 27.6 points and 15.7 rebounds, with 57% shooting in 75 career games.
Lanier was the number one overall pick by the National Basketball Association's Detroit Pistons in the 1970 NBA draft. He was also a territorial pick by the New York Nets of the American Basketball Association in the 1970 ABA Draft. The Nets had approached Lanier about turning professional after his junior year of college, but he declined because he felt St. Bonaventure could compete for a national championship.
Still recovering from knee surgery, Lanier signed with the Pistons, who eagerly presented him his NBA contract while he was still in the hospital recuperating from his knee surgery. Lanier reported to Pistons training camp limping, in significant pain, and overweight from his long period of inactivity following the surgery.
Lanier played while still recovering from surgery. He was named to the 1971 NBA All-Rookie Team, averaging 15.6 points and 8.1 rebounds, for the 45–37 Pistons, in 24 minutes per game under Coach Butch van Breda Kolff.
"I wasn't healthy when I got to the league," Lanier reflected. "I shouldn’t have played my first year. But there was so much pressure from them to play, I would have been much better off—and our team would have been much better served—if I had just sat out that year and worked on my knee. My knee was so sore every single day that it was ludicrous to be doing what I was doing."
Lanier rehabilitated his knee with the help of Coach van Breda Kolff, who had Lanier stay at his beachfront house for 2½ weeks to run in the sand and strengthen his knee and legs.
Lanier became a star for Detroit, playing alongside teammate Dave Bing and averaging more than 21 points per game for each of the next eight seasons, with a high mark of 25.7 PPG in the 1971–72 season, and more than 11 rebounds per game in seven straight seasons. Lanier's latter years in Detroit were marred by recurring injuries, as he never played more than 64 games in any of his last four seasons as a Piston.
Detroit was a franchise in constant transition. Lanier played under eight coaches in ten seasons: Butch van Breda Kolff (1970–1971), Terry Dischinger (1971), Earl Lloyd (1971–1972), Ray Scott (1972–1975), Herb Brown (1975–1977), Bob Kauffman (1977–1978), Dick Vitale (1978–1979) and Richie Adubato (1979–1980). Each coach was hired or fired mid-season.
Of his time in Detroit, Lanier said, "I think '73–74 was our best team [52–30]. We had Dave [Bing], Stu Lantz, John Mengelt, Chris Ford, Don Adams, Curtis Rowe, George Trapp. But then for some reason, they traded six guys off that team before the following year. I just didn’t feel we ever had the leadership. I think we had [seven] head coaches in my 10 years there. That was a rough time because, at the end of every year, you'd be so despondent."
Lanier played in seven NBA All-Star games with the Pistons and was the MVP of the 1974 NBA All-Star Game.
In his ten seasons with the Pistons, Lanier averaged a double-double 22.7 points, 11.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.2 steals in 681 games for Detroit. Lanier is the Pistons' all-time leader in scoring average (22.7 ppg) and ranks second in total rebounds (8,063) and third in total points (15,488).
February 4, 1980 Lanier was traded by the Detroit Pistons to the Milwaukee Bucks for Kent Benson and a 1980 1st round draft pick (Larry Drew was later selected).
In Lanier's five seasons with the Bucks, they won the Midwest Division championship each year under Coach Don Nelson, with Lanier playing alongside teammates Marques Johnson, Sidney Moncrief, Quinn Buckner, Junior Bridgeman and Dave Cowens. Still highly effective, with aging knees, Lanier played a key role with the Bucks while averaging nearly 10 minutes less per game in his Milwaukee tenure that he had in Detroit (36.2 to 26.8).
Of going to Milwaukee, "I wanted the trade." Lanier said. "I got to Milwaukee... and the people gave me a standing ovation and really made me feel welcome. It was the start of a positive change. I just wish I had played with that kind of talent around me when I was young. But if I had had Marques [Johnson] and Sidney [Moncrief] and all of them around me? Damn."
Lanier officially retired from the Milwaukee Bucks September 24, 1984.
In 278 games with the Bucks, Lanier averaged 26 minutes and 13.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.0 steals. He played in the 1982 All-Star Game with Milwaukee.
For his fourteen-season career, Lanier played in 959 games, averaging 20.1 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.1 steals. He scored 19,248 total points and had 9,698 total rebounds.
In 67 career playoff games, Lanier averaged 18.6 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.5 blocks. Lanier played in eight NBA All-Star Games.
"Bob probably wasn't as good a total player as he could have been because of the knee injury," said Hall of Famer Willis Reed, acknowledging, "He probably was one of the best all-around big men ever to play the game of basketball."
In the 1994–95 season, Lanier was hired as an assistant coach under his former coach Don Nelson with the Golden State Warriors. Lanier was named the interim head coach on February 13, 1995, after Nelson resigned. He compiled a 12–25 win-loss record in 37 games, as the Warriors finished 26–56 overall.
Lanier currently owns and operates Bob Lanier Enterprises, Inc., a promotional marketing company and is a member of the Proforma network.
From 2005 to the present day, Lanier has been the NBA Cares Global Ambassador. Lanier routinely works with youth-serving programs that support education, youth, and family development, and health-related causes. At the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, visitors are able to compare the size of their foot to that of Lanier's. The largest shoe ever created by shoe company Allen Edmonds was a size 22 for Lanier.
Lanier was a spokesperson and chairman of the NBA's "Stay In School" program (later renamed Read to Achieve) from 1989 to 1994.
According to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Lanier would smoke cigarettes during halftime breaks. Abdul-Jabbar would try to take advantage of this by forcing Lanier to run more during the second half. In the movie Airplane!, Abdul-Jabbar also references Lanier when he says to little Joey: "Tell your old man to drag Walton and Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes."
In March 2018, St. Bonaventure won its first game in the NCAA Tournament since 1970, defeating UCLA. Coach Mark Schmidt said, "It can't get better. Our guys just fought, we persevered. ... In 1970, you know, Bob Lanier got hurt, and didn't have a chance to play UCLA and ... this is for him." “When I got the job here 11 years ago, we hear the stories about 1970,” Schmidt said. “And everybody talks about if Lanier was healthy, they would have taken on UCLA. This victory is for those guys.”
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field goal percentage||3P%||3-point field goal percentage||FT%||Free throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|