(Born September 10, 1948) -- When the short list of Buffalo’s greatest basketball players is created, Bob Lanier is always on it.
Lanier grew up in Buffalo and played high school basketball at Bennett High. He was a classic case of someone who had to grow into his height, which was 6-foot-11, in order to succeed at the sport. Lanier put in the time, and did that.
According to legend, Lanier considered attending Canisius College but ended up at St. Bonaventure. There he was one of the school’s all-time greats. Lanier led the Bonnies to the NCAA tournament in 1970, and the team looked like potential champions until he hurt his knee in the regional finals.
Lanier was the first overall draft choice in the NBA in 1970, and signed with the Detroit Pistons. He played in eight All-Star games as a member of the Pistons and Bucks, who acquired him in 1980.
Lanier eventually made the Basketball Hall of Fame, and St. Bonaventure’s court in Olean is named after him. He’s remembered now for much more than his size 22 sneakers.
--- Budd Bailey