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Pistons greats, basketball world mourns passing of Bob Lanier

Pistons v Bullets Photo by Focus on Sport via Getty Images

News broke shortly after midnight that NBA and Detroit Pistons legend Bob Lanier passed away. The former No. 1 overall pick, eight-time All-Star and basketball Hall of Famer had an endless number of fans for his work on and off the court.

Reactions have been pouring in all day as former teammates, coaches, media personalities, and others remember the accomplishments of one of the premier big men of the 1970s. The Detroit Pistons released a number of statements from franchise mainstays.

On Behalf of Pistons Owner Tom Gores and the Detroit Pistons: “The Detroit Pistons organization is deeply saddened by the passing Bob Lanier, a true legend who meant so much to the city of Detroit and to generations of Pistons fans. As fierce and as dominant as Bob was on the court, he was equally kind and impactful in the community. As an ambassador for both the Pistons organization and the NBA, he represented our league, our franchise and our fans with great passion and integrity. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Bob’s family and friends.”

Former Pistons player, teammate and Hall of Famer Dave Bing: ”It was unfortunate to hear of Bob’s passing yesterday. I have many great memories of Bob, both as a teammate and as a friend. I was lucky to have played with him as a member of the Pistons and to have shared a long-lasting friendship. Bob will be greatly missed.”

Former Pistons player and Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas: “All of us who love the game of basketball are hurting with the loss of Bob Lanier. He was one of the greatest centers to play the game and one of the toughest and fiercest competitors. Just as he impacted the game on the court, Bob was one of the game’s greatest ambassadors. His class and caring for others set a great example for so many to follow. I’m grateful for his friendship and mentorship as I led the Pistons as a player and later followed his footsteps as president of the Players’ Association.”

Former Pistons player and head coach Ray Scott: “My friend, Bob, was an extraordinary talent who led the Pistons to playoff status. He shared his success with his community. He will never be forgotten.”

Former Pistons player and radio analyst Rick Mahorn: “Big Bob was a fierce competitor and one of the greatest big men to play the game of basketball, but he was an even better human being. He was always ready to share his knowledge of the game and life and had a lasting impact on many lives and communities. He and Wes Unseld, who we also lost, were like father figures to me. It didn’t matter if I was still playing or when I retired, I was still scared and intimidated whenever I saw him, but it was all out of respect and love. Our world, and especially the basketball world, lost a great one. He will surely be missed.”

Detroit Pistons broadcaster George Blaha: “The Pistons and the NBA have lost a treasured member of our family. Bob was one of the game’s all-time greatest big men with his strength, his touch, his toughness, and his feel for the game. He was a nightmare for the opposition. It was a privilege to broadcast his games, spend time with him and to follow his illustrious career as a multi-time all-star, president of the players association and as a tireless ambassador for our league’s community outreach programs. He welcomed me to the Pistons family in my first year as a broadcaster and was a true friend. Rest in peace Bob, we’ll all miss him very much.”

There have also been tributes, condolences and celebrations of the life and achievements of Lanier posted on social media. Just a sampling: