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Norman Van Lier

Basketball ∙ Midland

 

 

 

 

Playmakers on basketball teams usually donít become famous, but Norm Van Lier is a notable exception. He scored only 855 points in his Midland High School career (where he played with Simmie Hill) but his playmaking ability made him the sparkplug of the Leopardsí famous 1965 state championship team. Although he was small for basketball at 6'-1", Norm earned All State honors in his senior year as Midland went 28-0 under Coach Hank Kuzma. The Leopards blew away Steelton-Highspire, 90-61, to cinch the PIAA crown. Proving that he could be a scoring machine if needed, Norm averaged 18.8 points per game at St Francis College of Loretto, Pennsylvania, and maintained his reputation for versatility by averaging 10.9 rebounds and 11 assists per game. Norm earned first team All East honors and All American honorable mention during his junior and senior years at St Francis. He began his professional basketball career in 1970 with the Cincinnati Royals but was traded to the Chicago Bulls before the 1971-1972 season and had his best years there. In 1974, he became the first Beaver Countian to play in the NBA All Star Game. Norm had the two best games of his professional career in the 1975 NBA playoffs: he scored 35 points in a Chicago win over Golden State and 42 points in a victory over Seattle. He was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks for the 1978-1979 season and retired that year. During his ten seasons in the NBA, Norm averaged 12.2 points per game and always was among the league leaders in assists. As was the case in high school and college, he compensated with speed hustle and precision what he lacked in size. After retirement, Norm became a sports commentator in Seattle.