Professional basketball star Bob Lanier passed away at the age of 73, the NBA announced Tuesday night (May 10). The former Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks legend died following a brief illness, the NBA said in a statement. He had worked for the league as a global ambassador.
At a towering six feet, 10 inches tall, Lanier was a powerhouse center on the court, becoming one of the top players in the league during the 1970s alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and others.
The Buffalo, New York native entered the league in 1970, being drafted by Detroit as the No. 1 overall pick after leading St. Bonaventure University to the Final Four.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Lanier, a Hall of Famer and eight-time All-Star, is one of the most important centers in the league's history and that his achievements off the court are just as notable.
"For more than 30 years, Bob served as our global ambassador and as a special assistant to David Stern and then me, traveling the world to teach the game's value and make a positive impact on young people everywhere," Silver said. "It was a labor of love for Bob, who was one of the kindest and most genuine people I have ever been around."
Lanier's scoring record with the Pistons remains at the top with an average of 22.7 points per game.