Milwaukee Bucks: Meet the 1980s All-Decade Team

MILWAUKEE, WI - CIRCA 1986: (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - CIRCA 1986: (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Bucks, Bob Lanier
NEW YORK – JANUARY 27: (Photo by Henry S. Dziekan III/Getty Images) /

Milwaukee Bucks: Meet the 1980’s All-Decades Team – Bob Lanier

When the Bucks acquired Bob Lanier in a midseason trade during the 1979-80 NBA season, it was a signal of intent for an up-and-coming Bucks team.

Lanier had been a perennial All-Star and averaged double figures in points (22.7) and rebounds (11.8) with the Detroit Pistons. Yet, for all of the individual successes and honors that Lanier enjoyed during nine-and-a-half seasons with the Pistons, the ‘Dobber’ had only won one playoff series, which coincidentally came against a rebuilding, Bob Dandridge-led Bucks team during the 1975-76 season.

The instability that hung over Lanier’s time in Detroit eventually led to him wanting out and Pistons management eventually acquiesced by sending him to Milwaukee in exchange for Kent Benson. Lanier reflected on the trade in a Q&A with’s Steve Aschburner in September of 2018:

"“I wanted the trade. But until you start getting on that plane and leaving your family and start crying, you don’t realize it’s a part of your life you’re leaving. I got to Milwaukee and it was freezing outside. But the people gave me a standing ovation and really made me feel welcome. It was the start of a positive change. I just wish I had played with that kind of talent around me when I was young. The only time I thought I had it was that ’73-74 (Pistons) team they messed up. But if I had had Marques [Johnson] and Sidney [Moncrief] and all of them around me? Damn.”"

Of course, debilitating knee injuries had plagued Lanier over the course of his time in Detroit and even more so in Milwaukee. Bucks head coach Don Nelson preserved Lanier’s body in an attempt to maintain his durability, especially as the Bucks went on to enjoy deep playoff runs throughout the decade.

Even at his advanced age, Lanier still commanded plenty of attention from opposing defenses with the way he could score at the basket, hit from mid-range or dish it out to cutting teammates when double teams came his way. His production may have paled in comparison, but Lanier was even more efficient in his supporting role within the Bucks’ foundation.

In spite of the clear winning culture that was evident during his time in Milwaukee, Lanier and the Bucks famously fell short of reaching the NBA Finals by having run up against either the Boston Celtics or the Philadelphia 76ers. With all that said, it didn’t prevent the Bucks from retiring his No. 16 jersey nor did it prevent Lanier from entering the Naismith Hall of Fame in 1992, eight years after he called it a day.

Over his 278 appearances with the Bucks, Lanier averaged 13.5 points on 54.1 percent shooting from the field (73.6 percent shooting from the free throw line), 5.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists, a steal and 0.9 blocks across 26.8 minutes per game.