The legacy of Maurice Lucas -- Trail Blazers' Enforcer -- lives on through foundation
As basketball fans in Portland watch the NBA Finals, they undeniably yearn for a return to the Trail Blazers glory days, when 41 years ago this week a championship came to Rip City.
Every title run has its iconic moment. The one Blazer fans remember most may be when Maurice Lucas got in to a fight with Sixers' center Darryl Dawkins at the end of Game 2 of the 1977 NBA Finals.
"The big fight breaks out," said David Lucas, Maurice's son. "That was the turning point. They were getting smacked the second game. That just shows you how tough he was and how he wasn't scared of very much."
From there the Trail Blazers rattled off four straight wins, winning their first and only title.
"I can't tell you how many people come up to me and say, 'I was there, I was at Game 6,'" David said.
Maurice Lucas led that championship team in scoring, dropping more than 20 points a game. He was a fierce competitor, skilled passer, and defensive force. But the aggression stayed on the court, as Lucas was a beloved member of the Portland community, participating in countless clinics across the area to help mentor children.
"Maurice was probably out there in front of everybody in that type of work," said Bob Gross, Lucas' teammate on the 1977 team. "Maurice was a leader in that term."
Lucas died in 2010 from bladder cancer. He was 58 years old.
In the years since his passing, his son David, along with some of his former teammates, have worked to ensure Maurice's legacy lives on.
"He's not just an enforcer on the court, he's a kind, gentle, caring, respectful individual," said David Lucas, the executive director of the Maurice Lucas Foundation. "They really don't see like, 'Oh, he gave back to the community, he's very passionate about kids.'"
The Maurice Lucas Foundation was established to continue that work. It's worked at creating after-school programs, helping to provide opportunities for kids and taking them to outings like rope courses and field trips to Oregon State University.
"This would be his baby if he was still alive," Gross said. "You know David is an incredible young man; he reminds me so much of his dad."
The foundation is set to expand its operations when Harriet Tubman Middle School reopens in the fall. The foundation was one of 23 charities to receive a grant from the Jordan brand, which will allow it to offer scholarships to students in the program.
"I know he's up there looking down at us and smiling and seeing our success," David Lucas said.