Basketball Hall of Famer Bob Lanier died on Tuesday after a short illness, the NBA said.
Lanier who played for 14 years in the NBA, died after a short illness, surrounded by family, the NBA said in a statement.
“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,” CNN quoted NBA Commissioner Adam Silver as saying in the statement. Lanier was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1970 draft, and he averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds for his career.
Lanier played center with “fluid” movements, despite his 6-foot-11 frame, according to his NBA biography. He retired in 1984 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in the year 1992.
Born September 10, 1948, in Buffalo, New York, Lanier starred in college at St. Bonaventure, where he averaged 27.6 points and 15.7 rebounds in three seasons, according to USA Today. The Bonnies made it all the way to the Final Four in 1970, but Lanier had injured his knee in the regional final, and St Bonaventure lost in the national semifinals to Jacksonville.
Lanier also served as the league’s global ambassador for more than 30 years, “traveling the world to teach the game’s values and make a positive impact on young people everywhere,” Silver said.
He was known for wearing size 22 shoes, although that was disputed in 1989 by a Converse representative, who told The Atlanta Constitution that Lanier wore size 18 1/2.
Lanier overcame a host of orthopedic injuries, dealing with shoulder, back, elbow, hand and toe problems during his career. But that did not stop him from earning his place among the top NBA centers of his era.