Lucas, the fearsome ABA enforcer, is another vegetarian, in addition to being one of the most complete power forwards in the league; at times [Bill] Walton appears stunned when, high over the backboard, he glances across the rim to witness Lucas ripping another rebound asunder and scattering the bodies below him. “Bill’s a gorilla until the fight starts. Then he goes in hiding while I straighten things out,” Lucas says.
That Sports Illustrated article accurately surmised Maurice Lucas in 1977. After decking 7’2″ Artis Gilmore in an ABA game his rookie season, the 6’9″ Lucas became the most feared enforcer in the basketball. The reputation never dissipated as Lucas continued to angrily confront other players for their transgressions against Lucas or his teammates. In fact, Lucas’ spirited confrontation with Darryl Dawkins is credited with helping swing the 1977 NBA Finals from Philadelphia 76ers to the Portland Trail Blazers.
As that SI article noted, however, Lucas was one of the most complete power forwards in basketball, not just some goon to physically intimidate opponents. As a scorer, Lucas was never likely to overwhelm but you certainly had to respect what he was capable of lest he did overwhelm you. As a rebounder he was second-to-none. The same goes for his defense. Never mind the blocks or steals totals, the man would get up in the opponent’s face, muscle him up, and force bad shots.
His dogged, determined play on both ends of the court endeared Maurice to teammates, even if that blustery attitude sometimes caused headaches for management. But Luke was never one to kowtow to authority. He was a rabble-rouser and committed to his class compatriots, his other four mates on the hardwood.
He was the man you despised playing against, and genuinely loved having on your side.
Years Played: 1974 – 1988
All-NBA 2nd Team (1978)
All-Defensive 1st Team (1978)
All-Defensive 2nd Team (1979)
4x All-Star (1977-’79, 1983)
ABA - 166 Games
15.2 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.7 BPG, 46.3% FG, 77.5% FT
NBA - 711 Games
14.4 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 2.3 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.6 BPG, 47.3% FG, 76.3% FT
Contemporary NBA/ABA Ranks (1974-75 season through 1987-88 season)
5th Rebounds, 19th RPG
17th FGs Made, 22nd FTs Made
31st Blocks, 35th Assists
4th Games Played, 10th Minutes Played