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Bob Lanier 2016^
Bennett High School (Buffalo Public Schools)
Robert “Bob” Lanier was born in Buffalo, New York. Under coach Fred Szwejbka, he played basketball at Buffalo's Bennett High School, where he graduated in 1966.
It has been well documented over the years about Bob's struggles as a 6 foot 8 inch fourteen year old attempting to make the basketball team both in grammar school and high school. His coordination had not yet caught up to his height. He was too gangly and rather clumsy at first. He did not make his grammar school team and as a sophomore at Bennett High school, was cut from the team. Emotionally hurt, he turned to the local Boys Club to work on his game. Mr. Laurie Anderson, who ran the Boys Club help him polish his game. As Bob’s agility improved from countless hours of practice, Laurie also taught Bob the games fundamentals, including the proper way to pass the ball. Bob would shoot for hours, developing his touch as his coordination slowly came together. When Bob eventually tried out for the high school team as a junior, under new coach Fred Szwejbka, it was unbelievable how much he had improved and was prepared.
That year Bob averaged 21.4 points per game finishing second in the league in scoring and was named First Team All High. Since the Buffalo City schools did not enter Section VI until 1969, they were limited to eleven games a year with really no post season available to them. However, there was a tournament for the top four teams in the league called the Board of Education trophy. Led by Bob's 22 points, they defeated Yale Cup Champion Tech and went on to win the tournament.
In Bob's senior season, Bennett was co-champion of the Yale Cup series and won the Board of Education trophy for a second consecutive year. In addition to being the league's premier rebounder and shot blocker, he won the scoring title with a 25.3 average. He was named First Team All High and was honored with a First Team berth on the All Western New York team. Playing a limited schedule in his high school career where he led Bennett to a combined 23-3 record, he scored 602 career points, a 23 points per game average. After receiving over eighty college offers, Bob chose St .Bonaventure.
Lanier was a three-time Converse All-America selection (1968–1970), and in 1970, he led St. Bonaventure to the NCAA Final Four. He was injured late in the regional championship game in a collision with Villanova's Chris Ford and did not participate in Bona's national semi-final loss to Artis Gilmore-led Jacksonville University. That year, he was named Coach and Athlete Magazine player of the year, and the ECAC Player of the Year.
Lanier was drafted number one overall by the National Basketball Association's Detroit Pistons and was named to the All-Rookie Team following the 1970–71 season. He starred for Detroit until being traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in 1980. In his five seasons with the Bucks, they won the division championship each year. The same year he retired, in 1984, he was awarded the Oscar Robertson Leadership Award.
In his 14 NBA seasons, Lanier averaged 20.1 points and 10.1 rebounds per game while shooting a respectable 51.4 percent from the field. He played in eight NBA All-Star Games, and was named Most Valuable Player of the 1974 game. Lanier was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992 and had his #16 jersey retired by both the Pistons and the Bucks.
In 1994–95, he became interim head coach of the Golden State Warriors for 37 games after Don Nelson stepped down, in which he compiled a 12-25 win-loss record.
The basketball court at Lanier's alma mater, St. Bonaventure, is named after him. Lanier currently owns and operates Bob Lanier Enterprises, Inc., a promotional marketing company and is a member of the Proforma (Business) network.
Bob passed away 5/10/22