Monday, November 1, 2010
The quintessential power forward of my youth, Maurice Lucas, passed away yesterday from bladder cancer. He was 58.
He was the heart and soul of the '77 champion Trail Blazers and also a central figure on the greatest sports book ever written, "The Breaks of the Game" by David Halberstam. If you haven't read it, you should be sentended to watching the World Cup for the rest of your life.
Anyway, the best tribute to Luke was made by his teammate Bill Walton, who named his son after Lucas. Knowing how much the concept of team meant to Walton, with UCLA, with the Celtics, etc. how awesome is it that he named his son Luke? Do you think Kobe has a son named Shaq? Please.
After the Lakers won the 2009 championship, Walton wrote his son a letter saying how proud he is of him for being a member of a championship team. But Walton being Walton, he could not help but compare Luke's Lakers to his own Blazers, and he reminds his son of his namesake.
Check it out:
Luke, you mentioned the historical reference to your team's abilities. When you get to be my age, trash talking is about all that's left. I fully admit, Luke, that your team is really, really good. Kobe is supreme. Pau, Lamar and Andrew are all top of the line. And Phil Jackson is brilliant.
Right next to your smile on my spirit and soul are the immortal words of Jack Ramsay, who recently said on the 30th anniversary of the 1977 World Champion Blazers in putting that team's abilities in historical context:
"I like our team. We'll take our chances. Anywhere. Anytime. Against anybody."
Blazers in four, Luke. Never forget why you are named after Maurice Lucas.