Maurice Lucas enjoyed a successful career playing in the ABA and the NBA. Lucas began his basketball career playing in the ABA, and then when the ABA-NBA merger happened, he played in the NBA.
Throughout his basketball career, Lucas played for numerous teams and was one of the top players in the ABA and NBA. In 2010, he lost his life to cancer.
Who is Maurice Lucas?
For those who may not know who Lucas was, let’s take a look at his basketball career. Lucas played his college basketball at Marquette University. He played there for two years. During that time, he led his team to the NCAA championship game in 1974. Marquette lost to North Carolina State, but Lucas had an impressive performance leading his team with 21 points and 13 rebounds.
That same year the Chicago Bulls selected Lucas in the NBA draft. Lucas decided to join the ABA and played for the Spirits of St. Louis. During his first season, he averaged 13.2 points and 10 rebounds per game. Lucas was named to the ABA All-Rookie second team. In his second season, he started the season with the Spirits of St. Louis and was traded to the Kentucky Colonels. He was named an ABA All-Star during the 1975-76 season. At 6-foot-9, Lucas primarily played the power forward position, and he knew how to score and defend at a high-level.
When Maurice Lucas joined the NBA, he continued to play at a high level
After the merger between the ABA and NBA, Lucas was selected by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 1976 draft. In his NBA season, Lucas was selected to the NBA All-Star team, and he finished the 1976-77 season, averaging 20.2 points and 11.4 rebounds. Lucas wasted no time adjusting to the NBA and quickly became one of the top players in the league. The Trail Blazers went on to win the 1977 NBA championship defeating the Philadelphia 76ers.
Lucas continued to play at a high level in Portland over the next few seasons as he made three straight All-Star appearances in his first three seasons playing in the NBA. Lucas was a competitor, and he always went out there and left it all on the court. He was named to the All-NBA Team and the All-Defensive Team during those three years in Portland. The power forward quickly became a fan favorite and made a name for himself.
After spending his first three NBA seasons in Portland, Lucas went on to play for five different NBA teams. He continued to be a threat on offense and defense throughout his career. Lucas only averaged single digits in scoring the final two seasons of his career. He had the opportunity to play his final NBA season with the Trail Blazers.
Remembering Maurice Lucas and the time he spent in the ABA and NBA
The Trail Blazers retired Lucas’ No. 20 jersey in 1988. He was hired by the Trail Blazers as an assistant coach during the 1988-89 season and then rejoined the team as an assistant coach in 2005. Lucas was named to the All-ABA Team along with Hall of Fame members Julius Erving and George Gervin and a list of other greats.
In April of 2009, Lucas had to have surgery for bladder cancer. He had to step away from coaching due to his health. Lucas died in October of 2010, and the Trail Blazers honored him by wearing his No. 20 patches on their jersey for the 2010-11 season. Lucas touched many people during his basketball career, and he is someone that people will always remember.