Lionel Hollins was a member of the 1977 Portland Trail Blazer team that won the NBA title.
That’s where Hollins met Maurice Lucas, the quintessential power forward who was at the heart of that Portland team. Hollins has remained close to Lucas throughout the years. Lucas passed away this week at the age of 58, losing a battle with cancer.
That’s why he is missing the Grizzlies game Friday against the Suns to attend Lucas’ funeral, as he told the Commercial Appeal.
“It’s very important for me to be there,” Hollins said. “I’m close to his wife and his kids. He’s like a brother to me so I need to be there. I need to have closure as well. It’s hard to accept. He was a good person. I would be kicking myself for a long time if I didn’t go.”
Assistant coach David Joerger will take over the big chair for one game.
Maurice Lucas, the five-time All-Star and a prototypical power forward in the NBA, has died at the age of 58.
Lucas succumbed to bladder cancer he had been battling for years. He had been an assistant coach with the Trail Blazers — the team Lucas is best remembered for playing for — when the cancer was found. Surgery and recovery forced him to leave Nate McMillan’s staff in 2009.
Lucas’s number 20 was retired by Portland and he is remembered as central to the franchise’s lone championship in 1977, the guy who played next to Bill Walton. He spent just three and a half years of his 14-year career with that team, having started in 1974 with the Spirit of St. Louis of the old ABA and eventually playing for the Knicks, Suns, Lakers and others before eventually spending one last season with the trail Blazers. To this day he is remembered as one of the greatest Blazers in history.
Our best wishes go out to his family and friends.