SLAM: Original Old School: Cool Hand Luke
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  1. DHawes22
    Posts: 6488

    Posted 11/01/2010 12:05 PM

    Via SLAM-

    I was intrigued and enthralled with Maurice Lucas long before I knew much of anything about pro basketball. He and I both grew up in Pittsburgh, and an old buddy of mine once had the misfortune of having his face meet Lucas’s elbow on the floor of the Taylor Allderdice High gym. Luke may not have yet been at his NBA size of 6-9, 225, but he still had over a foot and probably 85 pounds on Dave. My pal learned the hard way what countless opponents of Schenley High, Marquette, the ABA’s St. Louis Spirits and five NBA teams would come to know: Don’t mess with Mo Lucas.

    Luke-who today is a successful Portland businessman- really made his mark in the ABA, and when the ABA-NBA merger brought Lucas to Bill Walton’s Portland Trail Blazers in ‘76, Luke’s game continued to improve even while his fearlessness remained intact. His bold play was exemplified by a moment late in game two of the ‘77 NBA Finals. The 76ers, led by Dr. J, George McGinnis and Bobby Jones, were running roughshod over the upstart Blazers. Then Philly center Darryl Dawkins took a swing at the Blazers’ Bobby Gross. Running to his teammate’s defense, Lucas floored Dawkins and in the process turned the series around. Philly would win the game, but it was the last time they’d see the right side of the scoreboard for the season; the Blazers won four straight to take the title.

    “Luke changed the tenor of that series entirely when he went after Dawkins,” recalls announcer Bob Costas. “Everyone was scared of [Dawkins], but Luke got right in his face, and it completely altered the momentum.”

    Lucas may have been ferocious, but he also had ample skills. Though the championship Blazers are remembered as Walton’s team, Luke was actually the leading scorer, at 20.2 ppg, to his more acclaimed teammate’s 18.6. He also averaged 11.4 boards and almost three assists, and played excellent D. Lucas’s presence also freed Walton to be himself. The year prior to Lucas’s arrival, the Blazers went 37-45 and finished last in the Pacific Division. With him, they went 49-33 and won a title.

    “Walton played a finesse game and Luke had his back,” recalls Costas. “He also had a really good mid-range jumper and could do a lot of things on the court. Also, apart from the brawling, Luke had a very useful kind of basketball toughness. He just stuck his nose in every single play. He was in the middle of things busting his ass on every single play and that’s why Walton loved him so much.”

    Costas ain’t lying. “Playing with Luke was great,” Walton recalls. “I even named my son after him [current Arizona Wildcat Luke Walton].”


    Great article and interview. Give it a read. He was a beloved teammates, as evidenced by Walton naming his first son after Lucas (Luke Walton) and he was the ultimate enforcer. There's no way we win that title without Mo. Rest In Peace Mo and thank you for the title in 77!
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