Friday, February 27, 2009

Norm Van Lier, Three-Time N.B.A. All-Star

The Bulls’ Norm Van Lier in a 1973 game against the Knicks

Get a look at those shoes; no fancy duds. And the shorts.

February 27, 2009
Norm Van Lier, Three-Time N.B.A. All-Star, Is Dead at 61

CHICAGO (AP) — Norm Van Lier, an All-Star guard and standout defensive player for the Chicago Bulls in the 1970s and later a sports broadcaster in the city, was found dead on Thursday in his home in Chicago. He was 61.

Firefighters went to his home, just blocks from United Center, the Bulls’ arena, in response to a request for a well-being check. They found him unresponsive and pronounced him dead shortly before 1 p.m., a Chicago Fire Department spokesman said. The Cook County medical examiner’s office confirmed his death. No cause was given.

Van Lier, who grew up in Midland, Pa., was drafted by the Bulls in 1969 out of St. Francis College in Pennsylvania but was immediately traded to the Cincinnati Royals. In 1971 he led the league in assists.

After three years with Cincinnati, he joined the Bulls and spent more than six seasons with them, becoming a fan favorite and gaining the nickname Stormin’ Norman for his fiery, tenacious play alongside teammates like Jerry Sloan and Chet Walker. A memorable moment came Jan. 19, 1977, when he made a full-court shot against the San Antonio Spurs.

A three-time All-Star, Van Lier played on five playoff teams and was named to eight National Basketball Association all-defensive teams in his 10-year career. He finished his career with Milwaukee in 1979, retiring with career totals of 8,770 points and 5,217 assists. Among Bulls, he ranks third only to Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in career assists and steals, the team said.

After retiring, he covered the Bulls as a television and radio analyst in the Chicago area and had a supporting role in the 2002 movie “Barbershop,” playing a customer. Information on survivors was not available, but an oral history project in 2003 referred to his having a wife, Susan, and two daughters at the time.

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