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Maurice Lucas remembered for key role in Portland Trail Blazers' championship

By Cindy Boren

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.''

By Cindy Boren  | November 1, 2010; 7:56 AM ET
Categories:  NBA  
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Wow, that's a shock. Thanks for posting this Cindy. Mo Lucas was an outstanding player and gets overlooked a bit for Walton on that excellent championship Blazers team. RIP.

Posted by: randysbailin | November 1, 2010 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Lucas threw a sucker punch on Dawkins.

Posted by: lwilliamson1 | November 1, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Legend has it that after Dawkins was ejected from this game, he went into the locker room and starting ripping up toilets off the floor (wow!) It's a good thing for Lucas that Dawkins didn't get an ample chance to retaliate against him during this melee, otherwise, the news of his death would have been reported in '77, rather than today.

Posted by: lwilliamson1 | November 1, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like the previous posters are some youngsters. Inanimate objects are easy to retaliate against; including backboards. Mo Lucas would have taught Dawkins an important lesson about toughness if they played out that fight. RIP MO.

Posted by: micshades | November 1, 2010 7:58 PM | Report abuse

I did know of Mo Lucas as a great basketball player but the most pleasent memory I have of him was his celebrity appearance at a tennis tournament in Portland in the late 80's or early 90's. I finally gain the courage to go over to him and chat briefly. He was so down to earth and very accessible. At the dance he was out mingling with anyone who would approach him. I heard he was a caring and fun person; he totaly demonstrated that. I believe our spirits are eternal and the people's lives Maurice Lucas has touch will keep those memories in their hearts and minds forever. You fought a good battle and lived as best as you could, I honor you for the way in which you shared you spirit in the form that we knew as Maurice Lucas. Blessings and strength to the family.

Posted by: njbenning | November 6, 2010 3:10 AM | Report abuse

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