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Bill Walton remembers Maurice Lucas

11/8/2010

On the Blazers' official website, Bill Walton remembers his deceased former teammate Maurice Lucas, whom he calls "better than perfect on all fronts." Walton writes:

In our first meeting he told me we were going to win the NBA Championship -- that season. He was right. He was always right.

In our very first game together, an NBA exhibition game in Portland against the Lakers of Kareem, Lucius Allen, Don Chaney, Kermit Washington and Coach Jerry West, with the game and everything else on the line -- the ball, our dreams and chances were rolling towards the out of bounds corner on the way to the Blazer locker room. With the clock ticking down, Maurice fought his way through countless players -- from both sides. After shaking everybody off and now with ball in hand and in complete control but with scant time to close the deal, Maurice drove the ball straight to the rim along the right baseline. The mighty Kareem came over to deny Maurice. They both rose higher than humanly possible and Kareem had all visible angles covered perfectly. But somehow, someway Maurice was able to contort his body around Kareem, glide under the basket and surface on the far side while still ascending. Big Luke threw down the most incredible reverse slam dunk right in Kareem’s face for the game winner at the buzzer. Maurice flung both arms and clenched fists in the air in the classic Muhammad Ali victory pose. And things were never the same again.

That night a tradition started in Portland. Whenever Big Luke was alternating between dominating and decimating, the always ready Blazermaniacs would roar LUUUUUUUUUUUUUKE as Maurice would destroy yet another hapless and helpless foe.

As healthy basketball teammates we never lost again.

The Portland Trail Blazers became the youngest team to ever win the NBA Championship -- a mark that stands to this very day.

Big Luke was so important in my life that I named our next born son after him.

On the day when Little Luke was born, Maurice brought over to the house an autographed action shot of himself in full rage and glory. In the photo Big Luke was going for and after it all -- like no one else ever could.

Maurice signed the picture to our son that day. It said, “To Little Luke, to make it in this world you’ve got to be tough, Big Luke.”