Maurice Lucas remembered for key role in Portland Trail Blazers' championship
Maurice Lucas, the man Bill Walton called the greatest Trail Blazer of all time, died Sunday at the age of 58, so let's take a moment to remember the guy who was known as an enforcer, who helped a small-market team in Portland win an NBA title.
He was four times an NBA All-Star (once in the ABA) over 14 years, but he's probably best remembered for his fight with Philadelphia 76ers center Darryl Dawkins during Game 2 of the 1977 NBA Finals, a moment that seemingly turned the series for the Blazers, who won in six games.
Walton was the star of that Portland team, as well as a lifelong friend of Lucas. Last year in Portland, Walton called him the greatest and joked that perhaps Mt. St. Helens should be renamed Mt. St. Maurice. And, if you're wondering, Luke Walton is named for Maurice Lucas.
"I hadn't seen him as much lately, but he and my dad still talked all the time," Luke Walton said. "From what I heard, he had been in some pain for a while. It's tough. He's a great guy."
Jack Ramsay, coach of the Trail Blazers when they won the title, said Lucas was the team's driving force, with Walton.
"He was the strength of the team,'' Ramsay said. "He was The Enforcer. He was really the heart of that team. And he liked the role. He enjoyed it. He really liked being the enforcer-type player.
"Plus, he was highly skilled. A great rebounder. A great outlet passer. Threw bullets for his outlet pass. Then he could score on the post, make jump shots on the perimeter. But mostly, it was his physical persona that he carried with him that made us a different team.''
| November 1, 2010; 7:56 AM ET
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