Editor’s Note: This story originally aired in September 2018. We’re showing it again to coincide with the virtual fundraising gala for the foundation Maurice Lucas began, the ML-20 Foundation.
PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Nothing unites a city more than a major sports championship. For Portland, that happened in 1977 when the Trail Blazers won it all.
Bill Walton was MVP, but what power forward Maurice Lucas did in Game 2 may have turned that series around.
Bobby Gross was in the middle of that defining moment for this place where were live.
Gross and Philadelphia center Darryl “Chocolate Thunder” Dawkins were battling for a rebound, when Dawkins slammed Gross to the ground. Gross took exception and yelled at Dawkins, who took a swing that missed Gross, but hit Dawkins’ teammate Doug Collins. As Dawkins tried to continue the fight, Blazer power forward Maurice Lucas came to the rescue, elbowing Dawkins hard to the back of the head, and squaring off for a fist fight, getting at least one good punch in, before calm was restored.
“In hindsight, I’m grateful he got involved because I didn’t want to take another punch from him – an attempted punch from Darryl Dawkins, because he was a big guy and real strong,” Gross told KOIN 6 News.
Gross works in the construction industry now, but in 1977, he played alongside “The Enforcer,” Maurice Lucas. The power forward from Marquette was the Blazers’ designated tough guy.
Down 2-0 to Philly in the title series, the Blazers returned to the Coliseum for game 3. Lucas knew it was in Dawkin’s head from the introductions.
“Darryl Dawkins didn’t know what was going to happen,” Gross said. “He (Lucas) stuck his hand out to shake his hand, and Darryl shook his hand. Darryl was a non-factor from that point on.”
The Blazers won 4 straight to take the series in 6, beating a Philadelphia 76ers team with Hall of Famer Julius Erving.
The brawl may have changed the series.
“I think it maybe let them know that we weren’t going to lay down for them,” Gross said.
Despite his persona, Lucas was a teddy bear off the court. He did a lot for the community he loved.
“You got to know him, Maurice was not a tough guy off the court,” Gross said. “He was only a tough guy on the court.”
The Enforcer died from bladder cancer in 2010, but for Blazer fans, Maurice Lucas will never be forgotten.