The Enforcer, Maurice Lucas
*Maurice Lucas was born on this date in 1952. He was an African American professional basketball player and coach.
From Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Lucas attended the Schenley High School and played college basketball at Marquette University for two years, leading it to the NCAA championship game in 1974. Although Marquette did not win the title, Lucas played the full 40 minutes of the game, leading his team with 21 points and 13 rebounds.
After college the Chicago Bulls with the 14th pick of that year’s NBA Draft selected him. Despite this, he instead joined the American Basketball Association's (ABA) Spirits of St. Louis where he was named to the 1974-75 ABA All-Rookie 2nd team. Part way through his second season with the Spirits, Lucas was traded to the Kentucky Colonels and remained with them until 1976. Lucas was an ABA All-Star for the 1975-76 season.
After the ABA folded, the Portland Trail Blazers in the subsequent dispersal draft selected him. In the 1976-77 NBA season, Lucas led the Trail Blazers in points (1599), pts/game (20.2), minutes played (2863), field goals (632), free throws (335), and offensive rebounds (271). Not only did the team qualify for their first trip to the playoffs that season, but Lucas and teammate Bill Walton led the Trail Blazers past the favored Los Angeles Lakers, sweeping them 4-0 in the Western Conference Finals, and stunning the league in a come-from-behind 4-2 upset victory over the Philadelphia 76ers for the championship.
During his career he was often called the “Enforcer”. In that NBA Finals series, Lucas asserted this role in Game 2. With the 76ers comfortably ahead late in the game, the Blazers streaked down the floor on a fast break. Lionel Hollins missed the shot, both Bobby Gross and Darryl Dawkins went up and wrestled for the rebound, and both came crashing to the floor. The two appeared ready to fight before Lucas slapped Dawkins from behind and challenged him to fight him instead of Gross. Both benches emptied and Dawkins and Lucas were ejected. Although the 76ers would go on to win the game and go up 2-0 in the series, Lucas' actions appeared to alter the momentum of the series in favor of the Blazers. Inspired, Portland won the next two games at home in blowouts, then won at Philadelphia, and closed out the 76ers at home to win the series He was a close friend to teammate Bill Walton. Walton's son, Luke was named after him.
After playing, during the 1988-89 season Lucas was hired by the Blazers as an assistant coach. In 2005, Lucas rejoined the Trail Blazers as an assistant coach under Nate McMillan. Maurice Lucas died of cancer on October 31, 2010, in Portland, Oregon.