Bob Lanier: Where is the Basketball Player Now?

Image Credit: Milwaukee Bucks/YouTube

HBO’s ‘Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty‘ is a sports drama series that explores the NBA of the 1970s and focuses on several high-profile basketball stars like Magic Johnson. However, the series also sheds some light on the careers of comparatively lesser-known basketball players who achieved an iconic status but eventually faded away. One such name brought up in the show’s second season premiere is Bob Lanier, and the steep decline in his career graph is highlighted as a reminder to Magic.

Bob Lanier Has Passed Away

Bob Lanier is referenced in the premiere of the second season of ‘Winning Time,’ titled ‘One Ring Don’t Make a Dynasty.’ The episode sees Magic Johnson suffering a horrific knee injury that threatens to destroy his career after only one season. Bob Lanier is mentioned as one of the skilled and highly talented players in the NBA who suffered a similar serious injury and never completely recovered from it. In reality, Robert Jerry Lanier Jr., better known as Bob Lanier, was born on September 10, 1948, in Buffalo, New York. He attended Bennett High School in New York, where he did not make the school basketball team until his junior year.

Image Credit: Milwaukee Bucks/YouTube

Lanier played for St. Bonaventure University’s basketball team during college but suffered a knee injury during his senior year, and his team eventually lost the 1970 NCAA tournament championship finals. However, Lanier’s performances at the college level were impressive enough to convince the Detroit Pistons to sign him as the first overall pick in the 1970 NBA draft. He started his rookie NBA season while recovering from his knee injury, resulting in limited game time. However, Lanier still delivered impressive numbers, averaging 15.6 points and 8.1 rebounds per game as the Pistons finished sixth in the Western Conference.

Lanier played for the Denver Pistions for nearly 10 years, but nagging knee and shoulder injuries marred his playing time. Lanier reportedly had eight knee surgeries throughout his life. On February 4, 1980, Lanier was traded by the Pistons to the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for Kent Benson and a 1980 first-round draft pick. He spent four more years with the Bucks before retiring from professional basketball at the end of the 1984 season. Lanier played as a Center throughout his career, wearing the number 16 jersey, which was retired by both his teams at the end of his career. He was included in the NBA All-Star team eight times.

Lanier ventured into coaching after his playing career ended, acting as an Assistant Coach for the Golden State Warriors between 1994 and 1995. He worked under his former coach, Don Nelson, and took over as interim head coach when the latter resigned in February 1995. However, the Warriors fared poorly under Lanier, winning 12 and losing 25 games in his 37 games in charge of the team. He ventured into business by forming Bob Lanier Enterprises, Inc., a promotional marketing company. Lanier then started working for the NBA commissioner’s office in 1995. He also served as the NBA Cares Global Ambassador between 2005 to 2022.

Lanier was hired as a consultant and coach on the 1992 sports comedy movie ‘White Men Can’t Jump,’ starring Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson. Unfortunately, Lanier is no longer with us; he sadly passed away on May 10, 2022. Lanier was 73 years old at the time of his death. He briefly battled a “short illness” before his passing. According to some reports, Lanier battled bladder cancer since 2019. Lanier was married and divorced two times and had five children and seven grandchildren, as per NBA. He was residing in Scottsdale, Arizona, at the time of his death. Aside from his contributions on the court, Lanier is fondly remembered for his tenacity, dedication, and humanitarian work.

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