Maurice Lucas: Thoughts from a post-1977 fan
By sarahhecht Posted in: mauricelucas
Maurice Lucas. The Enforcer. 1977 World Champion. Fan Favorite.
It's a sad time in Portland. Maurice Lucas, a member of the Portland Trail Blazers 1977 Championship team passed away Sunday after a two-year battle with bladder cancer. He was 58. Although my Trail Blazers fandom started long after the 1977 Championship and I’m without the loving memories of The Enforcer leading Portland to victory, I still have memories of Maurice Lucas that bring a smile to my heart. I knew Lucas as an assistant coach and a man constantly working with our star-hopeful, Greg Oden. When I learned that he was coaching a franchise-changing player I went on a quest to find all the information I could about him. I scoured the web and asked my parents and grandparents what they knew.
Here is what I learned about Maurice Lucas:
- He spent his time in a number 20 Trail Blazers uniform from 1976-1980 and again for his final season in 1987-1988.
- His tough style of play earned him the moniker “The Enforcer.”
- He was a fan favorite and a key component in the 1977 Championship, leading the Trail Blazers to a come-from-behind 4-2 series win.
- In the Championship season, Lucas led the team in scoring (20.2), field goals made (8.0), free throws made (4.2), offensive rebounds (2.4) and minutes (36.2.)
- The Trail Blazers retired his number 20 jersey on Nov. 4, 1988.
- According to my mom, his choice to move to Portland following his retirement from the NBA spoke volumes of how he embraced the city and its people.
- He was a great man that loved the game and cared about his team and fans.
I was satisfied with the fruits of my research. The sheer volume of information and the composition of his stats sheet was enough to make me believe that our team was in good hands, and lucky to have such a dynamic coach. Nate McMillan had similar words regarding what I now believed about coach Lucas. “We were so fortunate to have his influence on the young men on this team. He was my mentor, my big brother, and I always knew he had my back. He has left us far too soon.”
In the hours since his passing family, friends, co-workers and fans have shared their thoughts and memories of the man known as fierce on the court and a tender-hearted teddy bear off it.
“Portland and the NBA lost one of their greats today, Maurice Lucas was an amazing man and I count myself lucky to have known him. We all- players, coachers, the owner and fans - were made better by having Maurice a part of our team, whether playing on the championship team or, most recently as an assistant coach. He was one of the greatest Blazers ever. I’ll miss him. I and the entire Blazer family send our condolences to his wife, Pamela, and their children.” -Portland Trail Blazers Owner, Paul Allen
“He was the strength of the team. He was The Enforcer. He was really the heart of that team. And he liked the role. He enjoyed it. He really liked being the enforcer-type player. Plus, he was highly skilled. A great rebounder. A great outlet passer. Threw bullets for his outlet pass. Then he could score on the post, make jump shots on the perimeter. But mostly, it was his physical persona that he carried with him that made us a different team.” -1977 Championship Coach, Jack Ramsay
“We have lost a champion of a man. Maurice was a great man and a great friend. He battled his illness like the warrior he was on the basketball court.” Trail Blazers Head Coach, Nate McMillan
Thank you Mo Lucas, for playing, coaching and inspiring Portland. You and your passion and love for this community will always be remembered.
I’m sure many of you have thoughts and memories that would help me, and post-Enforcer era fans, understand what Mo Lucas meant to Portland and the Trail Blazers. Please share your thoughts and memories on Luke with me and others in Rip City in the comments below.