Former MU basketball star Maurice Lucas passes away

Former Marquette basketball star Maurice Lucas passed away Sunday evening at age 58.

Lucas, who passed at his home in Portland, Ore., died after a long bout with bladder cancer. He had surgery for the cancer in 2009.

Lucas led the men’s basketball team to the 1974 NCAA National Championship game against No. 1 North Carolina State. Although the Warriors ultimately lost to the Wolfpack, Lucas netted a game-high 21 points.

Bo Ellis, one of Lucas’ teammates on the 1974 team, lamented his loss Monday.

“Truly one of the all-time greats,” Ellis said in an e-mail. “I was very close to him. We spent a lot of time together talking over the years and laughing. We had some good times together when we were in school, but we became closer once he graduated. Luke was genuine.”

Foregoing his senior season, Lucas left to play professional basketball for the now defunct American Basketball Association for two seasons. He started with the Spirits of St. Louis in 1974-’75 and then played for the Kentucky Colonels the following year. The ABA merged with the National Basketball Association in 1976.

The power forward then teamed with NBA Hall of Famer Bill Walton during his rookie season with the Portland Trail Blazers, helping the franchise to its first and only NBA championship in 1977.

The same year, Marquette, led by famed coach Al McGuire, won the NCAA National Championship game against North Carolina.

Lucas was voted an NBA All-Star during each of his first three seasons with the Blazers. He was also named to the All-NBA second team and defensive first team during the Blazers’ championship run.

He played in the NBA until 1988, when he ended his career during his second stint with the Blazers. Altogether, Lucas played for the New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers and Seattle Supersonics.

Known for his intimidating physical presence, Lucas earned the nickname “The Enforcer” for his bruising game and rebounding prowess. His playing style helped form the mold for the modern power forward.

Both the Blazers and Marquette retired Lucas’ number from competition. His No. 20 jersey hangs in the rafters of the Rose Garden Arena and the Bradley Center.

His survivors include his wife, Pamela, his sons, David and Maurice, and a daughter, Kristin.

No campus memorial services had been planned as of press time.