St. Bonaventure and NBA basketball Hall of Famer Bob Lanier will return to campus in a big way in October.
Lanier will headline a full weekend of Bonnies basketball-related events Oct. 12-13, highlighted by the unveiling of the new Reilly Center floor. The state-of-the-art wood court, which is currently being installed, will be dedicated to and officially named "Bob Lanier Court."
The new court was made possible thanks to the generosity of a group of alumni, spearheaded by a $200,000 gift from Lisa and Samuel Molinaro, Bonaventure alumni from the classes of 1981 and 1980, respectively. Barb and Tom Fleming, classes of 1981 and 1980, respectively, also made a $50,000 donation to the project.
"St. Bonaventure University is a special place to us and for us to be able to give back to a place where we have so many fond memories is an honor," said Sam Molinaro. "Bob Lanier elevated an already established St. Bona basketball program to the next level and is an ideal ambassador of the sport. When we were thinking about names for the court he was the obvious choice and a perfect fit."
Lanier embroidered his career at St. Bonaventure by leading the Brown and White to the Final Four in 1970 while being named a consensus All-American. Lanier averaged 29 points and 16 rebounds per game en route to guiding the Bonnies to a 25-3 record and No. 3 national ranking during the season. Just a few months later, Lanier was taken by the Detroit Pistons in the 1970 NBA Draft with the first overall pick. Lanier made an immediate impact in his first season in Motown, earning the Rookie of the Year award. He went onto play 14 seasons in the NBA, splitting time between Detroit and the Milwaukee Bucks.
"October 12th will be an extremely humbling day in my life," said Lanier, an eight-time NBA All-Star. "It's a great honor to have something like this happen to me. For Lisa, Sam and the other alumni who made this possible to think I was the right person to name the court after is an amazing honor."
In addition to the floor replacement, there will be upgrades to some of the Reilly Center's basketball operations equipment.
"It's exciting to think about the future events on the new court and to have Bob Lanier's name permanently linked to the Reilly Center and to the University," said Director of Athletics Steve Watson. "The weekend should be a special one with Bob and many of his fellow alumni coming back to campus."
On Saturday, Oct. 13, Lanier and his fellow Bonnies basketball alumni will take part in the first game on the new court, a "legends" alumni game.
Saturday evening, the annual Tip-Off Gala will cap the weekend. Lanier will attend that event as well.