Robert Jerry Lanier Jr. (September 10, 1948 – May 10, 2022) was an American basketball center with the Detroit Pistons and the Milwaukee Bucks (NBA). Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee in 1992.
Lanier appeared in eight NBA All-Star Games, winning the 1974 game’s MVP award. His success came despite a history of knee ailments.
The Pistons and Bucks retired his No. 16 jersey, and St. Bonaventure University retired his No. 31 jersey.
After retiring from playing, he was an assistant coach and temporary head coach for the Golden State Warriors. He became an NBA Cares Global Ambassador.
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Robert Jerry Lanier Jr. Robert and Nannette Lanier raised him.
Lanier attempted basketball as a child but was rejected. When Lanier, 11, went out for his primary school team, a coach informed him his feet were too large to be an athlete.
Lanier was too clumsy to join the varsity basketball team at Bennett High School his sophomore year, despite being 6 feet 5 inches (1.96 m) tall.
New coach Fred Schwepker, who had Lanier in his biology class, urged him to try out again in his junior year. Lanier re-appeared and made the team.
He averaged 21.5 points per game as a junior and was named All-City. As a senior, he averaged 25.0 points and was All-WNYS. He led Bennett to the Buffalo city title both years. Lanier graduated in 1966.
Although he was solicited by over 100 schools, Lanier decided on St. Bonaventure University, an hour and a half away. “His parents could come to watch him play,” stated Coach Weise. “His parents were at every game,” he said.
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3-time Converse All-America (1968–1970) He guided St. Bonaventure to the NCAA Final Four in 1970. He hurt his knee late in the regional championship game against Villanova’s Chris Ford and missed the national semifinal defeat to Jacksonville University, where future ABA and NBA Hall of Fame center Artis Gilmore played. Lanier was voted Coach and Athlete Magazine’s Player of the Year and ECAC Player of the Year that year.
- Freshman (1966–1967)
- Sophomore (1967–1968)
- Junior (1968–1969)
- Senior: NCAA Tournament and a knee injury (1969–1970)
- Detroit Pistons (1970–1980)
- Milwaukee Bucks (1980–1984)
Lanier played 959 games in 14 seasons, averaging 20.1 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.5 blocks, and 1.1 steals. He had 19,248 points and 9,698 rebounds. Lanier has 18.6 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.5 blocks in 67 postseason games. Lanier was an All-Star eight times.
“Bob was perhaps one of the finest all-around big guys ever to play the game of basketball,” remarked Hall of Famer Willis Reed.
Lanier was a strong enforcer who was noted for his tenacity in the game. In 1971, he knocked out Atlanta’s Bob Christian and broke Detroit’s Bill Laimbeer’s nose in 1983.
- 1975 marked induction into the St. Bonaventure Athletics Hall of Fame St. Bonaventure retired Lanier’s jersey number 31
- In 1978, Lanier was awarded the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award by the Professional Basketball Writers Association (PBWA) for his exceptional community work.
- The YMCA organization awarded Lanier the “Jackie Robinson Award” in 1981. The award is presented for young service, citizenship, and leadership.
- 1991 saw Lanier’s induction into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.
- The number 16 jersey of Lanier has been retired by both the Detroit Pistons and the Milwaukee Bucks. In 1984, the Bucks retired his jersey.
- In 1993, the Pistons retired his jersey.
- In 1992, Lanier was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
- Lanier was awarded the Congressional “Horizon & Leadership Award” in 2000. The award is given yearly by the Joint Leadership Commission of the United States Congress and the Board of Directors of The Congressional Award Foundation to persons who have had a significant effect on the lives of young Americans.
- Induction into the College Basketball Hall of Fame occurred in 2006.
- Lanier was awarded the National Civil Rights Museum Sports Legacy Award in 2007. In the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., he was honored for his tremendous contributions to worldwide civil and human rights.
- In 2007, Lanier’s alma institution, St. Bonaventure, dedicated the basketball court in his honor. Within the Reilly Center Arena is “Bob Lanier Court.” According to a 2007 news release, “Bob Lanier is the perfect representative of the sport since he upgraded an already successful basketball team at St. Bonaventure. When considering names for the court, he was the easy option and an ideal match.”
- Lanier was selected as a co-recipient of “The Mannie Jackson – Basketball’s Human Spirit Award” in 2009. The award was presented by the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in honor of the recipient’s dedication to basketball and community service.
Personal life and Death
Lanier has five children with wife Rose Lanier, Walter “Jack” Lanier, Kimberly Lanier, Tiffany Lanier, Robert Lanier III, and Khalia Lanier, and seven grandkids.
Lanier’s subsequent knee issues deteriorated with age. After retiring, he had multiple operations, the latest in 2017.
In September 2018, Lanier revealed an NBA memory: “…when I was still in Milwaukee, I was buying gas on Center St. ‘My dad is unwell,’ remarked a man. You’re his favorite. Could you come up and greet him? ‘The home next door.’ So I headed upstairs. He was in his bed. “This is Bob,” his kid remarked, “I know.”
And he simply smiled and twinkled. And he gripped my hand. And we prayed. His father died two weeks later. And he left a letter to Bucks’ headquarters, thanking them for making one of my father’s last days enjoyable.”
Lanier died on May 10, 2022, after a brief illness. He was 73
Bob Lanier has a net worth of $1.1 million as a basketball player. Bob Lanier was born on September 10, 1948, in Buffalo, New York. 8-time NBA All-Star center who played for the Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks for 15 seasons. In 1992, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
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Frequently Ask Questions
Is Bob Lanier in the Hall of Fame?
“Bob Lanier was a Hall of Fame player and one of the most gifted centers in NBA history, but his effect on the league extended well beyond what he achieved on the court,” said NBA commissioner Adam Silver in a statement.
What happened to Bob Lanier?
The NBA’s Gentle Giant died on May 10, 2022. Bob Lanier, a former Detroit Pistons player and one of the finest NBA players of the 1970s, died at the age of 73. He died with dignity after a brief illness.
How tall was bob Lanier?
Bob lanier The height of 6 feet 10 inches.
What was Bob Lanier particularly skilled in?
Lanier flourished in an era of great centers like Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Lanier’s moves were smooth despite his height. He possessed a lethal lane hook, a solid outside shooter, and great rebounding ability.