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Former Trail Blazers forward Maurice Lucas dead at 58

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Maurice Lucas was known as "The Enforcer"
  • He is one of four three-time All-Stars in Trail Blazers history
  • He most recently served as a Trail Blazers assistant coach

(CNN) -- Former NBA player Maurice Lucas, a forward for the Portland Trail Blazers, died Sunday after a long battle with cancer, the team said on its website. He was 58.

A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Lucas "was a central figure on the Trail Blazers' 1976-77 championship team," the team said. During that championship season, Lucas -- known as "The Enforcer" -- led the team in scoring, with 20.2 points, along with field goals made (8.0), free throws made (4.2), offensive rebounds (3.4) and minutes (36.2), according to the team.

In the 1977 playoffs, Lucas was the team-high scorer in eight of 19 games and led the team in rebounds twice. He is one of four three-time All-Stars in Trail Blazers history.

He most recently served as an assistant coach for the Trail Blazers from 1988-89 and again from 2005-10. The team honored him by retiring his number, 20, in 1988.

"Portland and the NBA lost one of their greats today," team owner Paul Allen said in the website posting. "Maurice Lucas was an amazing man, and I count myself lucky to have known him. We all -- players, coaches, the owner and the fans -- were made better by having Maurice a part of our team, whether playing on the championship team, or most recently as an assistant coach."

"He was one of the greatest Blazers ever," Allen said. "I'll miss him." He offered his condolences to Lucas' wife, Pamela, and their children.

As a student at Marquette University, Lucas led the school to the NCAA championship game in 1974, according to the Trail Blazers. Portland acquired him as the second pick in the 1976 ABA dispersal draft. He played 12 seasons in the NBA and four in the American Basketball Association, according to the Portland team's website.

"Words cannot express the magnitude of loss we feel tonight with the passing of Maurice Lucas," Larry Miller, Trail Blazers president, said in the statement. "The Trail Blazers family has lost our Enforcer, but for me personally, I have lost a brother."

Funeral arrangements were incomplete, the team said.