A Humble Icon: Western New York Basketball Figures Remember the Great St. Bonaventure Bob Lanier | College of Sports

The few times that Bob Lanier has made public appearances on campus at St. Bonaventure in recent years, Jim Stalin remembers all the times Lanier, the great Bonnie men’s basketball player, came back to campus or to western New York and gave back to the community where he grew up And he went to college.

“From a basketball standpoint, he put St. Bonaventure on the map,” said Stalin, who played for Bonnie from 1966-1969, coached them from 1973 to 1982 and is now an anchor for men’s basketball in Syracuse. “He did a lot of things in society and he was doing it for free. He came back, he was flying, he was doing it all the time. He did all those things in college and even after that, things no one knew before.”

Remember Bob Lanier: His signature soft touch has made him the most amazing brand ever

It was Lanier’s touch that would make him look great at any age. He had a better bank shot, hook or mid-range shots, than any big man today.

This nature-giving special is one of the many qualities that prominent local basketball personalities remember about Lanier, the Buffalo native and Bennett High School graduate who died Tuesday in Arizona. He was 73 years old.

Tributes to Lanier, the 14-year-old NBA veteran, streamed Wednesday from across western New York, around basketball and around the world, including a photo and statement posted on social media by the Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. pax.

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“Bob Lanier will always be one of the great men of basketball,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote. “Not just because of the size of his body but because of the size of his heart.

“Bob and I are forever bound because of bucks and because of my complaint about being dragged up and down the field in an ‘Airplane! “

“Sports, the fans and I will miss him so much. His death is a reminder of how vulnerable we are to cancer no matter how big and strong we are and how we all need to be vigilant in the fight against disease.”

Lanier’s name and personality are more synonymous with Saint Bonaventure’s athletics and basketball programmes.

“Bob Lanier is Saint Bonaventure basketball,” said Bonnie coach Mark Schmidt, emphasizing the word “he.”

“When I got the job (in 2007), Bob Lanier was my everything. Everyone I talked to, I talked about a size 22 (shoe) which is a first-round pick. But what it all says about Bob is that he was so modest you wouldn’t know He’s never been one of the 50 best players of all time. There’s just not enough to say about what he means.”

Bob Lanier, Saint Bonaventure, NBA legend dies at 73

10 September 1948 – 10 May 2022

During his 15 years coaching the Bonnies, Schmidt has worked to educate his new players and staff about the importance of Lanier in the basketball program, and in honor of Lanier’s legacy.

“History and legacy are really important,” Schmidt said. “We talk about the players who came before them, and that’s who we play for. Sweat and tears and all the effort we put in. When we do the campus tours, we go to the trophy bag, his jersey, and his size 22, but legacy is so important. Bob is a big part of that.”

Sugar Ray Hall, a great Canisius College basketball player and McKinley High graduate, remembers watching Lanier play at Puna and then the NBA, a huge indoor guy with soft shooting touch, instincts and guard skills.

“The tenacity he had on court was second to none,” said Hall. “He wasn’t a guy you wanted to mess with. He had no problem telling you he was a guy. It’s all part of the sport. He did what he was supposed to do. He played the game really well. He was a huge icon. He was one of those guys who should To be proud of them, whether you know him or not. You have to be proud of him, and we must preach him.”

Hall shared the floor at Canisius College with Lanier, Tom Steth Bona, Larry Vogel of Canisius, Larry Costello and Calvin Murphy of Niagara (who was unable to attend the event) as part of the The Little Three All-Time Basketball Team in 1989.

“Bob has always been a phenomenal ambassador when it comes to basketball,” Hall said. “He was a big guy who played like a big guy and did a lot of great things like paving the way for a lot of other Western New York players to travel this road.

“He was a true Buffalo. He didn’t leave Buffalo behind. For those who have heard his name or know his story, he should be held in the highest esteem possible. I’d like to see (Buffalo Mayor) Byron Brown do something for him, in honor of his name.”

Born and raised in Buffalo, Bob Lanier passed away on Tuesday, May 10, 2022 at the age of 73. After graduating from Bennett High School in Buffalo, he went…

Canisius men’s basketball coach Reggie Witherspoon grew up in the Hamlin Park neighborhood of Buffalo, close to the Lanier family, and considered Lanier a source of pride, not just for his neighborhood, but for the city.

“He took Buffalo everywhere with him because we’ve all lived through him and his accomplishments,” Witherspoon said. “He was the All-Star Game of 1974, he was always Bob Lanier, Calvin Murphy, Randy Smith, but Bob was the only one born in Buffalo. In his era, he played against the great positions. He played against everyone. It was great to see him represent Our city and the way he did it. He wasn’t a guy with any embarrassing behavior, and even his playing career, he was an ambassador.”

Witherspoon said Lanier was a very conscientious person who went to the NBA knowing he had a certain responsibility to represent his family, his neighborhood and his city. Lanier was also someone who set limits, not allowing others to take advantage of him.

“I also hear stories about how big his heart is and how caring he is,” Witherspoon said. “He was the guy who, of all who played college basketball in Western New York, was the most influential I could think of, at this point.”

Jack Armstrong, who coached the Niagara men’s basketball team and is now an anchor for the Toronto Raptors, met with Lanier from time to time at NBA events. In nearly every conversation that Armstrong had with Lanier, the conversation inevitably turned to the Basketball Three, St. Bonaventure, and Western New York.

Armstrong relied on a recent event in which he spoke for Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, the property group of the Raptors, to describe Lanier.

“One of the things I talked about is the huge difference between success and importance,” Armstrong said. “When I look at Bob, he was not only successful, he was important. The people he met, the way he treated people, the way he carried himself, as a gentleman and as a public figure.

“That’s the most important thing: how you treat yourself. For a place like St. Bonaventure, they take great pride in Bob, and that goes hand in hand with the mission of the school.”

Lanier’s influence extended to leadership in the NBA Players Association. He was president of the NBPA in 1983 when he reached an agreement over a work contract with the NBA that helped avert a strike, and included a revenue-sharing plan and a minimum and maximum team salary. Then-NBA Commissioner Larry O’Brien described the settlement as a “historic business agreement in professional sports.” According to the New York Times.

Lanier retired in September 1984, after 14 years in the NBA as a hub with the Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks, and became an ambassador for NBA initiatives that include education, health, youth and family development.

“People will always talk about someone who was a great guy and maybe he wasn’t, but that’s not Bob,” said Stalin. “He’s a friend to everyone. I can’t tell you how many calls and texts I got this morning from people who said to me, how much they miss him and what a great guy he was. That’s what I’ll remember most for him for sure.”

“There are a lot of things you can remember, both individual and sporting things, but I will always remember how Bob treated others.”