Maurice “The Enforcer” Lucas has succumbed to cancer. Fans and friends attended a memorial service on Nov. 8, a week after Lucas died at age 58, according to Portland television station KPTV. Lucas led the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers to their only NBA Championship in 1977. He was later named to the All-ABA team at the 30th reunion of ABA players in 1997. Lucas returned to the Trail Blazers family as an assistant coach until he resigned at the end of the 2009-2010 season, citing health reasons. Lucas lost his battle with bladder cancer when he died in his home on Oct. 31, according to the NBA website.
My Memories of Lucas
Many basketball fans such as myself will remember Lucas as a tough player who left everything on the court. His heart and popularity continued off the court as well when he passed the torch to new generations of players such as Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and many of the NBA’s big men.
Lucas wouldn’t necessarily be one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history but his tenacity and personal integrity is what I will remember most. In Game 2 of the 1977 NBA Finals, the Philadelphia 76ers were on their way to a blowout at the Spectrum.
When tempers flared after Philadelphia’s Darryl Dawkins attempted to wrestle a rebound away from Portland’s Bob Gross, Maurice Lucas came in to defend his teammate by knocking Dawkins in the back. Both Lucas and Dawkins would be ejected and the TrailBlazers went down 2-0 in the Finals. You can see video of the fight here on YouTube. Lucas comes in at mid-court and gets into it with Dawkins.
The incident earned Lucas the nickname “The Enforcer” and galvanized the team to an amazing comeback led by Bill Walton. The Blazers never lost another game, winning the series 4-2 in one of the greatest NBA Finals in history.
Maurice Lucas Foundation
What impressed me the most was Lucas’ off-court foundation he helped run with women’s basketball great Sheryl Swoopes. The Maurice Lucas Foundation inspires kids of all ages to overcome obstacles and differences by their “All in One” philosophy.
The foundation hosts cheer and dance programs for girls and will host its first MLK Jr. Classic basketball tournament in January at the Courts in Beaverton, Oregon. In lieu of flowers, the family of Maurice Lucas is asking donations be made to the Maurice Lucas Foundation.
Lucas has had such a memorable impact on his teammates, Bill Walton named his son Luke after him. Lucas leaves behind his wife and son. He will be missed because of the friends he made and relationships he cherished, which far outweighed anything Lucas accomplished on the basketball court.
Fox 12 Oregon, “Fans to Remember Maurice Lucas At Memorial”, KPTV.com.
NBA, “Former NBA star Maurice Lucas dead at 58”, NBA.com.
Maurice Lucas Foundation, “All in One Basketball”, LucasSwoopesBasketball.com.
YouTube, “1977 NBA Finals Game 2…an NBA game broke out at the Spectrum.”