Portland Trail Blazers legendary forward Maurice Lucas passed away today at the age of 58 after a long battle with cancer.
Lucas was a central figure on the Trail Blazers 1976-77 NBA Championship team and averaged 15.6 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 0.72 blocked shots over five seasons (1976-80, 87-88) in Portland.
During Portland’s 1976-77 NBA Championship season, Lucas led the team in scoring (20.2), field goals made (8.0), free throws made (4.2), offensive rebounds (2.4) and minutes (36.2). In the 1977 Playoffs, Lucas led the team in scoring in eight of the 19 games and in rebounding twice.
“Portland and the NBA lost one of their greats today,” said owner Paul Allen. “Maurice Lucas was an amazing man and I count myself lucky to have known him. We all - players, coaches, the owner and the fans - were made better by having Maurice a part of our team, whether playing on the championship team or, most recently as an assistant coach.
“He was one of the greatest Blazers ever. I’ll miss him. I and the entire Blazer family send our condolences to his wife, Pamela, and their children,” added Allen.
A standout at Marquette University, Lucas led the school to the NCAA National Championship game in 1974. Portland acquired Lucas as the second pick in the 1976 ABA dispersal draft. He played 12 seasons in the NBA and four in the American Basketball Association.
“Words cannot express the magnitude of loss we feel tonight with the passing of Maurice Lucas,” said Trail Blazers President Larry Miller. “The Trail Blazers family has lost our Enforcer, but for me personally, I have lost a brother.
“Maurice has left unforgettable fingerprints on every decade of Trail Blazers basketball, yet it is his booming personality, his warrior-like loyalty, and most of all, his undying love for his family, for the Trail Blazers, for his teammates, and for the city of Portland that we will all hold dearly in our hearts. On behalf of myself and the entire Trail Blazers organization, our deepest sympathy goes out to his wife Pam, sons Maurice Jr. and David, daughter Kristin and grandson Luke,” added Miller.
Selected to the All-Star Game in three straight seasons from 1977-79, Lucas is one of four three-time All-Stars in Trail Blazers history (Clyde Drexler, Brandon Roy, Sidney Wicks).
“We have lost a champion of a man,” said Trail Blazers Head Coach Nate McMillan. “Maurice was a great man and a great friend. He battled his illness like the warrior he was on the basketball court.
“We were so fortunate to have his influence on the young men on this team. He was my mentor, my big brother, and I always knew he had my back. He has left us far too soon,” added McMillan.
The Pittsburgh, Pa., native was named to the All-NBA Second Team and All-Defensive First Team in 1977-78. He was named to the All-Defensive Second Team in 1978-79.
Lucas most recently served as an assistant coach with the Trail Blazers for five seasons from 2005-10, and previously in 1988-89.
The Trail Blazers honored Lucas by retiring his uniform number (No. 20) on Nov. 4, 1988.