Maurice Lucas (February 18, 1952 – October 31, 2010) was an American professional basketball player. The first two years of his postcollegiate career were spent in the American Basketball Association (ABA) with the Spirits of St. Louis and Kentucky Colonels. He then played twelve seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA) with the Portland Trail Blazers, New Jersey Nets, New York Knickerbockers, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers and Seattle SuperSonics. The starting power forward on the Trail Blazers' 1976–77 NBA Championship team, he was nicknamed The Enforcer because of his primary role on the court which was best exemplified in Game 2 of the NBA Finals that season.
|Born||February 18, 1952|
|Died||October 31, 2010 (aged 58)|
|Listed height||6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)|
|Listed weight||215 lb (98 kg)|
|High school||Schenley (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)|
|NBA draft||1974 / Round: 1 / Pick: 14th overall|
|Selected by the Chicago Bulls|
|Number||20, 25, 33, 23|
|1974–1975||Spirits of St. Louis|
|1976–1980||Portland Trail Blazers|
|1980–1981||New Jersey Nets|
|1981–1982||New York Knicks|
|1985–1986||Los Angeles Lakers|
|1987–1988||Portland Trail Blazers|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career ABA and NBA statistics|
|Points||14,857 (14.6 ppg)|
|Rebounds||9,306 (9.1 rpg)|
|Assists||2,498 (2.4 apg)|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
Lucas played college basketball for head coach Al McGuire with the then-Marquette Warriors for two years, leading it to the NCAA championship game in 1974. Although Marquette lost the title game to North Carolina State (64-76), Lucas played the full 40 minutes of the game, leading his team with 21 points and 13 rebounds.
In 1973, the Carolina Cougars of the American Basketball Association (ABA) obtained that league's rights to Lucas in the first round of the ABA draft. In 1974, Lucas was also selected by the Chicago Bulls of the National Basketball Association (NBA) with the 14th pick of the NBA draft. Lucas chose the ABA over the NBA, joining the Spirits of St. Louis team, which had since supplanted the Carolina Cougars in the ABA. During his first season, Lucas averaged 13.2 points per game, and 10 rebounds per game, and he was chosen for the 1974–75 ABA All-Rookie second team.
On December 17, 1975, part way through his second season with the Spirits, Lucas was traded to the Kentucky Colonels in exchange for Caldwell Jones. Lucas was an ABA All-Star for the 1975–76 season, and he averaged 17.0 points and 11.3 rebounds per game. Lucas remained with the Colonels through that team's loss in the semifinals of the 1976 ABA Playoffs to the Denver Nuggets and through the ABA–NBA merger in 1976.
Walton has found some real soul partners, too. Lucas, the fearsome ABA enforcer, is another vegetarian, in addition to being one of the most complete power forwards in the league; at times Walton appears stunned when, high over the backboard, he glances across the rim to witness Lucas ripping another rebound asunder and scattering the bodies below him. "Bill's a gorilla until the fight starts. Then he goes in hiding while I straighten things out," Lucas says.— C. Kirkpatrick, "Healthy, Wealthy and Size", SI (Dec. 13, 1976)
After the ABA–NBA merger, Lucas was selected by the Portland Trail Blazers in the subsequent ABA Dispersal Draft in which the Kentucky Colonels and Spirits of St. Louis players were selected by NBA teams. Portland had traded Geoff Petrie and Steve Hawes to the Atlanta Hawks for the second overall pick, which they used to select Lucas. In the 1976–77 NBA season, Lucas led the Trail Blazers in scoring, minutes played, field goals, free throws, and offensive rebounds. Not only did the team qualify for their first trip to the playoffs that season, but Lucas and teammate Bill Walton led the Trail Blazers past the favored Los Angeles Lakers, sweeping them 4–0 in the Western Conference Finals, and a surprising come-from-behind 4–2 upset victory over the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1977 NBA Finals.
In that NBA Finals series, Lucas asserted his "enforcer" role in Game 2. With the 76ers comfortably ahead late in the game, the Blazers streaked down the floor on a fast break. Lionel Hollins missed the shot, both Bob Gross and Darryl Dawkins went up and wrestled for the rebound, and both came crashing to the floor. As Dawkins ran up court, he threw a punch that largely missed Gross, nailing his own teammate Doug Collins instead. As Dawkins reached mid-court, Lucas greeted him with an elbow to the head, after which they briefly squared off. Both benches emptied and Dawkins and Lucas were ejected. Although the 76ers would go on to win the game and go up 2–0 in the series, Lucas' actions appeared to alter the momentum of the series in favor of the Blazers. Inspired, Portland won the next two games at home in blowouts, then won at Philadelphia, and closed out the 76ers at home to win the series. Lucas remained with Portland until 1980 when he was traded to the New Jersey Nets in exchange for Calvin Natt.
After a year with the Nets, Lucas was traded to the New York Knicks for Ray Williams. In 1982, he was dealt to the Phoenix Suns for Truck Robinson. In Phoenix, Lucas helped an injury-plagued Suns team reach the Western Conference Finals in 1984. Ironically, Lucas would sign with the team Phoenix lost to in 1984, the Los Angeles Lakers, following the 1985 season. On Wednesday, December 4, 1985, Lucas made a 60-foot shot at the regulation buzzer to send the game into overtime. The Lakers would go on to defeat the Utah Jazz 131-127. After the Lakers lost the 1986 Western Conference Finals to the Houston Rockets, Lucas moved to the Seattle SuperSonics for one year, before returning to the Trail Blazers for his final NBA season in 1988.
In his fourteen-year professional basketball career – two in the ABA and 12 in the NBA – Lucas scored 14,857 points and gathered 9,306 rebounds in 1021 games. He was a five-time All-Star – one in the ABA and four in the NBA. He was named to the 1978 All-NBA-Defense First team, the 1978 All-NBA Second team and the 1979 All-NBA-Defense Second team.
The Portland Trail Blazers retired his jersey number, 20, in a ceremony on November 4, 1988. Lucas was hired by the team as an assistant coach under Mike Schuler and Rick Adelman during the 1988–89 season. In 2005, Lucas rejoined the Trail Blazers as an assistant coach under Nate McMillan.
On August 23, 1997 at the ABA's 30 Year Reunion celebration, Lucas was named to the All-Time All-ABA Team along with Hall of Fame members Julius Erving, Dan Issel, George Gervin, Rick Barry, Connie Hawkins and other ABA greats.
Lucas died at his home in Portland, Oregon, on October 31, 2010. Services were also held in his childhood home town, Pittsburgh. The Blazers honored him by wearing No. 20 patches on their jerseys for the 2010–2011 season.
- Heisler, Mark (November 2, 2010). "Maurice Lucas dies at 58; menacing power forward in the NBA". The Los Angeles Times
- Maurice Lucas at DatabaseBasketball.com Archived November 22, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
- Spirits of St. Louis page at RememberTheABA.com Archived May 9, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
- Maurice Lucas page at RememberTheABA.com
- Spirits of St. Louis Detailed Year by Year Notes page at RememberTheABA.com Archived June 27, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
- "Lucas vs Dawkins Fight".
- "60-foot shot sets up Lakers' win, 131-127". USA Today. December 5, 1985. p. 8C.
- Khan, David (November 5, 1988). "Blazers Pay Tribute to Prodigal Son". The Oregonian. pp. B07.
- Trail Blazers Announce Maurice Lucas to Join McMillan's Coaching Staff, August 1, 2005
- 30 Year ABA All-Time Team page at RememberTheABA.com Archived May 17, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
- "LOS ANGELES LAKERS PLAYERS – Luke Walton". Retrieved June 6, 2009.
- "David Lucas not exactly a chip off the old block". Oakland Tribune. January 31, 2004.[dead link]
- "Lucas Undergoes Cancer Surgery". SI.com. April 2, 2009. Archived from the original on April 6, 2009.
- Peterson, Ann M. (June 25, 2010). "With GM drama finally over, Blazers move on". Associated Press. Retrieved July 15, 2010.
- Goldstein, Richard (November 1, 2010). "Maurice Lucas, Bruising Forward for Trail Blazers, Dies at 58". The New York Times
- Barcousky, Len (November 20, 2010). "Maurice Lucas stands tall in mourners' minds". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.