What Happened to Former No. 1 Overall Pick and Pistons Great Bob Lanier?

Let’s go back to 1970 50 years ago. That is when the Detroit Pistons had the No. 1 pick in the 1970 NBA draft. The Pistons decided to select Bob Lanier, a native of Buffalo, New York. Lanier went on to have a successful NBA career playing for the Pistons and the Milwaukee Bucks.

The eight-time All-Star spent 14 seasons in the league and made a name for himself. To this day, Lanier is a person that is notable throughout the NBA.

Bob Lanier was a top player in college

Lanier played college basketball at St. Bonaventure and was a standout player on the basketball court. During his sophomore year, he led St. Bonaventure to a 26-0 record after they finished the previous season with a 13-9 record. Lanier averaged 26.2 points and 15.6 rebounds. In the 1968 NCAA Tournament, St. Bonaventure lost to North Carolina in the East Regional Semifinal, ending their undefeated season. Lanier was named a second-team All-American after the season. 

He continued to have success throughout his career at St. Bonaventure. During his junior year, he averaged 27.3 points and 15.6 rebounds. At 6-foot-11, Lanier dominated on both ends of the court. He could score at will, and he could crash the boards. Lanier put his team in positions to win a lot of times during his career.

His senior year was a big one. He averaged 29.2 points and 16.0 rebounds and led his team to a 25-1 record and a No. 3 national ranking at the end of the 1969-70 regular season. Lanier put together an impressive performance during the 1970 NCAA Tournament and led St. Bonaventure to the Final Four. Unfortunately for Lanier, he could not play in the national semifinal game because he suffered a knee injury the game before. St. Bonaventure lost to Jacksonville University to end Lanier’s college career.

Bob Lanier, the No. 1 overall NBA draft pick and having a successful career

After a successful college career, Lanier became a top NBA prospect. The Pistons selected Lanier with the top pick in the 1970 draft, and he immediately made an impact on the team. During his rookie season, he was playing while still recovering from his knee injury, and he averaged 15.6 points and 8.1 rebounds. He was named to the 1971 All-Rookie Team.

From 1970 to 1980, Lanier established himself as a star in the league and was a top player for the Pistons. He was one of the top centers in the league during that time and always played at a high level. After a successful career with the Pistons, he was traded to the Bucks in February of 1980. Lanier continued to play at a high level with the Bucks. During his time with the Bucks, he averaged 13.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 2.7 assists. His jersey was retired by both the Pistons and Bucks. Lanier made his mark in the NBA.

A look at what Bob Lanier has done since retiring from the league


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The Hall of Famer spent a brief time as a coach. During the 1994-95 season, he was the assistant coach of the Golden State Warriors. He served under Don Nelson, and Lanier was later named interim head coach in February of 1995 after Nelson resigned. As interim head coach, he finished with a 12-25 record, and the Warriors finished the season with a 26-56 overall record. 

Lanier enjoys giving back to the community. He has made countless visits to schools and has delivered motivational messages on multiple topics, including education, youth, and health issues. Lanier also serves as Special Assistant to the Commissioner and is an Ambassador for the NBA Cares program. The eight-time All-Star has been around the NBA for a long time and has made an impact during his playing career and after. He’s someone people will remember for a long time.