“Bob Lanier was a Hall of Fame player and one of the most talented centers in NBA history, but his impact on the league went way beyond what he achieved on the pitch,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in the statement.
“His enormous influence on the NBA was also seen during his time as president of the National Basketball Players Association, where he played a key role in negotiating a groundbreaking collective bargaining agreement.”
Lanier has also been the league’s global ambassador for over 30 years, “traveling the world to teach the values of the game and make a positive impact on young people around the world,” said Silver.
“We send our deepest condolences to Bob’s family and friends,” added Silver.
According to the bio, the Detroit Pistons knocked Lanier out of St. Bonaventure in the 1970 draft with the first pick overall. He was named to the NBA All-Rookie Team for 1970-71 and that season he averaged 15.6 points. In 1974 he was named NBA All-Star Most Valuable Player.
“The Detroit Pistons organization is deeply saddened by the passage of Bob Lanier, a true legend who has meant so much to the city of Detroit and generations of Pistons fans,” Pistons owner Tom Gores said Wednesday.
“As fierce and dominant as Bob was on the pitch, he was equally kind and impactful in the community,” said Gores. “As an ambassador for both the Pistons organization and the NBA, he represented our league, our franchise and our fans with great passion and integrity.”
Lanier eventually joined the Milwaukee Bucks and took them to five consecutive division titles in the regular season.
“I learned so much from Bob simply by observing how he connected with people. He was a dear friend that I will miss very much, as have many of his peers across the NBA who were inspired by his generosity,” said Silver.