Life is too short. It really is. I was going through some of my old newspaper clippings and articles thinking, "What ever happened to Maurice Lucas?" I was barely walking when he helped the Portland Trail Blazers to the 1977 NBA title. He was a power forward known as "The Enforcer" and this always made me laugh considering the NHL players we normally give this name to. But those of you who know your NBA history will know, the early days of the NBA were almost set up like the NHL just minus the skates and equipment and insert basketball nets - penalty boxes and two minute time outs, too. Well, after a long fight with bladder cancer, Maurice Lucas died at age 58 over the weekend. He joined the Portland Trail Blazers in the '76 ABA dispersal draft and averaged about 20 points per game and about 11 rebounds in their championship year (1976-1977). That was a team high back then. Lucas was also an assistant coach with the Trail Blazers for 6 seasons but after surgery last year he left the team and did not return to coach this year. He played in the NBA for 12 seasons with Portland, New Jersey, New York, Phoenix, the L.A. Lakers and Seattle and two ABA seasons with St. Louis and Kentucky. You know Luke Walton? Currently plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, son of Bill Walton? He was named after Maurice Lucas since he and Bill Walton were teammates in Portland. It's a shame he never got around to writing his memoirs. I would have loved to hear what he thought of the league now having survived the ABA and making a name for himself in the NBA. In case you are interested, there are two books which touch on the life of Maurice Lucas: The Breaks of the Game by David Halberstam and Loose Balls by Terry Pluto. He is survived by wife Pamela and children David, Maurice and Kristin. He will surely be missed and remembered by friends, family and fans of the game.
"I can see clearly now, the rain is gone..."
Here's a tune LeBron James may be humming at the moment. He is now saying if he had a chance to do things differently, he would change how he made the jump from Cleveland to Miami. He is not saying what those changes would be but he said he would definitely have changed it. However, he is still happy in Miami. Why now? You are bonding with your new team and slowly emerging from the booing to loud cheers for some powerful dunks. Why admit to your detractors you may have been wrong? The last tactic to help fans over the "get over it" hump? Maybe. Whatever the reason, I hope this is the last of it. I even watched some television broadcasters go on about Chris Bosh and if the Raptors are happy without him. If you ask Sonny Weems, Jarret Jack and DeMar DeRozen, I 'd say the answer would be yes since now they are getting to show off what they can do. C'mon people, let's get over it already.
Chris Bosh for President?
I don't know if we will ever see this headline but never say never, right? Former Knick, Nets and Trail Blazer Chris Dudley is fighting to represent Oregon as a Republican Governor. Remember, he isn't the only former NBA player turned politician. Former Cavs and Suns All-Star Kevin Johnson is the Mayor of Sacramento and the first African-American to hold this post. Also, NBA Hall of Famer Dave Bing is the Mayor of Detroit. Now, if you know anything about politics, half the battle is name recognition - the other half is money. So clearly the fact that these guys played professional basketball helped them in both. Being in the public eye helped them raise money and support for their campaign but is this necessarily a good thing? What political experience do they have? I believe if you care about your city and want to be a part of the solution to see it grow and flourish, for sure, take a stab at running for Major. It is not as easy and as glamorous as it looks. But are we setting a trend for the Gilbert Arenas' of the NBA who think this is an option for them? Let's just hope voters continue to educate themselves.
Joe Tait Update
In last Thursday's edition of "Behind Enemy Lines", I mentioned Cavs' Hall of Fame Broadcaster Joe Tait was scheduled to undergo a heart double bypass this week but now things have changed. He remains hospitalized with a blood clot in his lung. The Cleveland Cavaliers says he passed out at home and was rushed to Medina Hospital and then transferred to the Cleveland Clinic. He had an umbrella filter procedure done on him Monday which is supposed to prevent further clots from reaching his lungs. I am following this story since I am also a play-by-play/ color broadcaster for the PWHL and I can't imagine being in my retirement and not going out on my own terms. At 73 years old, Joe Tait was set to retire this year and the Cavs organization expected him back after fully recovering from heart surgery. Something tells me they may have to throw him an early retirement party. My heart goes out to him, his family and Cavs fans.
See you on Thursday for another edition of "Behind Enemy Lines".