Maurice Lucas Rumors

Schonely has “RIP CITY,” on his personalized DMV license plates. Maybe you’ve seen his familiar Cadillac driving on the freeway, or walked up on it in a parking lot and snapped a photograph beside those plates. I drove up upon Schonely and his wife cruising on I-205 once, pulled alongside, rolled down the window, and honked. Without hesitation, or taking his eyes off the road, Schonely instinctively honked back and waved. He never did look over. “People honk every so often when they see me,” he told me, days later. He likes that you remember him. And Schonely is delighted when people come up and talk about their favorite broadcasts or how they feel young again when they hear his voice. Legacy is big for a man who built the reputations of so many others. “It’s one of the biggest highlights for me. No. 1 is the championship in 1976-77. There was Clyde, and Maurice Lucas,” he said, “I guess I must have made my free throws.”
The Trail Blazers on Thursday announced that LaMarcus Aldridge was the inaugural recipient of the Maurice Lucas Award. The honor will be presented annually to the Trail Blazers player who “best represents the true spirit of Maurice Lucas through his contributions on the court and in the community, as well as in support of his teammates and the organization,” the team announced. In recognition of the award, the Trail Blazers will make a $5,000 donation on behalf of Aldridge to the Z Man Foundation, a mentoring program to help prepare youths for college. The Trail Blazers dedicated the 2010-11 season to Lucas after the former All-Star died Oct. 31 at age 58.
The late Maurice Lucas is among the nominees for the 2011 class of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Lucas, who died Oct. 31 after a long battle with bladder cancer, is one of 21 players, coaches and officials nominated by the Hall’s North American committee. Lucas played 14 years in the ABA and NBA and was a key figure in the Blazers’ 1977 NBA championship team. He averaged 20.2 points and 11.4 rebounds on the title team and 14.6 points and 9.1 rebounds during his career. He also served as an assistant coach for the Blazers. Also nominated this year are former Blazers coach Maurice Cheeks, a star player for the Philadelphia 76ers, and former Blazers player Arvydas Sabonis, who was nominated by the international committee.
Hornets Coach Monty Williams, who came here from Portland, spent a lot of time when he was with the Trail Blazers talking to former Blazers forward Maurice Lucas. Lucas died Sunday night after battling bladder cancer. “Luke was a bit of a mentor for me going to Portland,” Williams said. “I got a chance to talk to him maybe 10 or 15 minutes before he passed. It was one of those situations where you can’t explain that. The last few days, I just thought about all the things he taught me. We watched the Finals together (this summer), and I thought he was going to be OK. About a month later, they called and told me he had a few weeks left. “Everybody talks about this bruiser guy. I saw that and watched film on him, but he was one of the coolest people you ever want to meet. Talented. Made his own furniture. Everywhere he went, people loved him. Entrepreneur. Great family man. I mean it’s just sad to see him in the state he was in the last time I saw him. A shadow of who he was. Probably lost 60 or 70 pounds, maybe more. But he was a great man.”
“We have lost a champion of a man,” Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. “Maurice was a great man and a great friend. He battled his illness like the warrior he was on the basketball court.” A private funeral for Lucas will be held on Friday in Portland. Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins and assistant Johnny Davis, former teammates on the Blazers’ championship team, were among those attending. “He had a tough exterior, but he was a sweetheart of a man and very loyal to his friends. He made an impact on a lot of people’s lives, and he influenced a lot of people,” Hollins said shortly after Lucas’ death.
The Portland Trail Blazers paid tribute Thursday night to Maurice Lucas, remembered as much for the warrior he was off the court as he was on it. Lucas, a fierce power forward who helped lead the Blazers to the 1977 NBA title, died Sunday after a long fight with bladder cancer. He was 58. The Blazers were on the road when they heard the news about Lucas, who was an assistant coach with the team until cancer forced him to step away last season. Back at the Rose Garden for a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the team held a solemn moment of silence. Afterward, the crowd shouted “Luuuuuuke!” just as it did in his playing days.
Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins and assistant Johnny Davis will not be with the team for a road game Friday against the Phoenix Suns. They will instead be in Portland, paying their final respects to former teammate Maurice Lucas, who died Sunday at age 58 after a long battle with bladder cancer. Hollins and Davis teamed with Lucas on the 1977 NBA champion Portland Trail Blazers squad. They agreed that their bond was like family. Hollins and Davis will attend the family’s private funeral Friday while assistant coach David Joerger guides the Griz against the Suns. “It’s very important for me to be there,” Hollins said. “I’m close to his wife and his kids. He’s like a brother to me so I need to be there. “I need to have closure as well. It’s hard to accept. He was a good person. I would be kicking myself for a long time if I didn’t go.”
Lucas, the former Trail Blazers great, died Sunday surrounded by family members in his home after a long, grueling battle with bladder cancer. He was 58. “Our whole family was there,” his son, David, said Monday. Another son, Maurice Jr., flew from Japan, where he is stationed with the Air Force. The family had to put in an emergency request through the Red Cross to allow him to take leave, and he arrived within 24 hours, at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. “We were telling my dad, hold on, Maurice is coming,” David Lucas said. “So we had all the family. His brother, his sister, all his siblings, and their (spouses) made it, and he passed away at 5:35 p.m. last night in my brother’s arms.” Maurice Lucas battled cancer for the past two years, and after it seemed he had bested the disease, he had a relapse and had to be hospitalized a year ago. Since then, he has undergone chemotherapy, but it did not succeed, and Lucas went home to spend his final weeks. “He went peacefully,” David Lucas said. “He struggled for a long time. A lot of people didn’t see it, but he was struggling for a long time, and he suffered. It was just time where the suffering needed to stop, and he needed to be happy again.”
Unlike any other Blazer, Twardzik had two viewpoints of Luke, one as an ABA opponent for two seasons, the other as a teammate. “As an opponent, he was really nasty. You couldn’t run by him through the lane without getting whacked in the ribs or in the head. He’d tag you and then stare you down, like ‘what are you gonna do about it?’ “When I became his teammate I questioned how that was going to work out. What I found out is that he was the best teammate because of that stuff. If someone did something dirty to you he’d say, ‘Bring him over here and we’ll straighten him out, not maliciously, just a jolt to let the guy know payback was a bitch.
Thorn liked Luke because he was an “officially tough” and cared. “There was no Fugazy in him. He took no bleep from anybody.” At the same time, Luke went out of his way to avoid confrontations with Lonnie Shelton and Mel Bennett, another Pittsburgh product. Marvin Barnes, on the other hand, said Thorn, was a coach’s nightmare, summarily ending my innocence. They got along OK, but Luke never respected Barnes because he of all the talent he wasted by not training or taking anything serious other than partying. Fed up with News’ innumerable discretions, Thorn suspended him for one game. Unfortunately, his timing was horrid; the Spirits lost before a packed house that largely got in for free. “That did not go over big with the owners [the Silna brothers],” the 76ers team president. “I understood why they were unhappy. It was an impetuous decision.”
Luke was the lone hombre who had Thorn’s back. “He stuck around until everyone had left the locker room and told me, ‘You did the right thing.’ “I kept up with him and he had a wonderful career (15.2 points and 10 rebounds his two red, white and blue years; 14.4 and 8.9 the dozen years thereafter for six teams). For 1 ½ years (50-10, actually in the second when Medical Bill got hurt) he and Walton were as good a tandem as you could get. They could make shot and dominate you on the boards.” “When Bill went down,” said Hollins, attesting to Luke’s legendary leadership, “Maurice addressed the team and growled, ‘If there’s anyone in this room who doesn’t think we can win a championship without him you should get on a plane right now.’ ”
Sixers coach Doug Collins was saddened at the news of the death of Maurice Lucas, the one-time Portland Trail Blazers power forward known as the “The Enforcer.” Lucas, 58, died Sunday of bladder cancer. He was a major force in helping the Trail Blazers defeat the Sixers in the 1976-77 NBA Finals. He is remembered among longtime Sixers fans for a fight with Sixers center Darryl Dawkins that never really materialized. “Darryl swung at [the Blazers’] Bobby Gross and hit me,” Collins recalled. “I was the unintentional recipient. But later on, when Darryl and Luke squared off, it looked like something out of the 1920s, like John L. Sullivan bare-knuckling at halfcourt. “One other thing I remember is, we used to have a competition called ‘Superstars,’ with something like 10 events, and Luke set a record in, of all things, swimming. To see this big, strong, 6-10 power forward swimming that way was a sight to behold.”
Paul Westphal teamed up twice with Luke, briefly in New York and later in Phoenix for a season. Asked if he might have an exclusive story to share, the Kings coach e-mailed: “Everyone will recall Luke’s toughness, competitiveness and his strengths as a teammate and competitor. No argument from me on all of the above. But he could surprise you with aspects of himself that defied easy assumptions. “In the late ’70s, we were both participants in the old ‘Superstars’ competition on ABC. We could pick seven of a possible ten events. I grew up by the ocean in Redondo Beach, and noticed that Maurice, a 6-9 power forward from Pittsburgh was signed up for the swimming event. Even though we were required to wear Speedos to participate, I signed up anyway. After all, a win would put me in the finals, and this HAD to be a sure win!
Last week Luke left the hospital to die at home with his wife, Pamela, David, Maurice Jr.and Kristin. “I’ll never forget the first time I played against Luke when Portland came to Denver,” Ellis said, chuckling at the memory. “I was 6-9 and 200 pounds. Even though I’d averaged almost ten rebounds a game alongside Luke who averaged 11, my skills were more suited to play small forward, but my height made me a power forward for that era. “Here I am on the wing early on and I catch the ball, look in, give it up, make my cut and WHOP, Luke stands me up with a forearm and knocks me backward. I balled up my fist and tried to hit him on the arm but missed. “He knew I was mad. He just sneered and said with a laugh, “Welcome to the NBA, Slim.”
Lucas wasn’t around the Blazers much in the last couple of years. He was in and out of the hospital, visiting with doctors, enduring chemotherapy. For a while there, even as we knew Lucas had cancer, we all expected “The Enforcer” would kick its butt. It’s what Lucas did. And Darryl Dawkins knows what I’m talking about. Lucas lost his battle on Halloween. I won’t ever think of the holiday the same way. The Blazers media relations department made the call they’ve been dreading for weeks, one by one, reaching out to pass the message to the public. And while I’ve covered the Blazers for eight seasons, and seen some disappointing things, this is the worst news I’ve ever had to write about. Losing a game stinks. Losing a legend is unspeakable.
Lucas was a terrific basketball player. Soulful. Fearless. Strong. But when you raised his name people rarely talked about the points or rebounds or even a big game, instead they told you, “Nobody was tougher.” I think Lucas liked that. During the 2008 season the Blazers got intimidated by a screaming, posturing, trash-talking Kevin Garnett in a loss at Boston. Rookie Greg Oden was on his first NBA road trip, and his eyes were wide as saucers after the game. Lucas, then a Blazers assistant, walked past and said that nobody trash-talked like Garnett during his career. “Back then,” Lucas said, “it was only a $50 fine for punching a guy in the mouth.”
Maurice Lucas, the fierce power forward known as “The Enforcer” who helped lead the Portland Trail Blazers to the 1977 NBA title, has died after a long fight with bladder cancer. He was 58. Lucas, who in later years was an assistant coach with the Blazers, died Sunday at his home in Portland, the team said. Lucas joined Portland in the 1976 ABA dispersal draft and averaged a team-high 20.2 points and grabbbed 11.2 rebounds per game in the 1976-77 championship season. His No. 20 was retired by the Blazers in 1988. At public appearances, fans often greeted Lucas with cries of “Luuuuuuke!” His competitive demeanor on the court was in contrast to his gentle nature off it. “We have lost a champion of a man,” Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan said in a statement. “Maurice was a great man and a great friend. He battled his illness like the warrior he was on the basketball court.”