Norm Van Lier

Norman Allen Van Lier III (April 1, 1947 – February 26, 2009) was an NBA basketball player and television broadcaster who spent the majority of his career with the Chicago Bulls.

Norm Van Lier
Norm Van Lier 1971.JPG
Van Lier with the Chicago Bulls in 1971
Personal information
Born(1947-04-01)April 1, 1947
East Liverpool, Ohio
DiedFebruary 26, 2009(2009-02-26) (aged 61)
Chicago, Illinois
Listed height6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Listed weight173 lb (78 kg)
Career information
High schoolMidland (Midland, Pennsylvania)
CollegeSaint Francis (PA) (1966–1969)
NBA draft1969 / Round: 3 / Pick: 34th overall
Selected by the Chicago Bulls
Playing career1969–1979
PositionPoint guard
Number23, 2, 4
Career history
19691971Cincinnati Royals
19711978Chicago Bulls
1978–1979Milwaukee Bucks
Career highlights and awards
Career statistics
Points8,770 (11.8 ppg)
Rebounds3,596 (4.8 rpg)
Assists5,217 (7.0 apg)
Stats at


Norman Van Lier was born in East Liverpool, Ohio to Helen and Norm Sr., who worked in a steel mill for 31 years. He was raised, along with three brothers and a sister, in Midland, Pennsylvania. Van Lier had three other brothers who died after birth; he named one of them Elgin Baylor Van Lier I. Van Lier would look back fondly to his childhood playing tackle football with a taped coffee can for a ball due to their circumstances. He would later credit this upbringing in forming his famed work ethic later in life.[1]

Van Lier was a member of the 1965 Midland High School Leopards, considered by many to be one of the greatest high school basketball teams of all time,[citation needed] finishing 28-0 and easily winning the Pennsylvania State Championship. One of Van Lier's teammates was future NBA player Simmie Hill.[2] During weekends, Van Lier would hitchhike to the playgrounds in Harlem, once even playing with Billy Cunningham.[1]

Van Lier was also a co-captain of his football team, where he played both quarterback and safety. He was recruited to play for several colleges, but none allowed him to play his desired position of quarterback. Van Lier had received offers to play professional baseball as well, after starring on his high school and county all-star teams.[citation needed]

On June 21, 2008, he was inducted into the WPIAL Hall of Fame. "Western Pennsylvania is football country, but my years are considered the golden era of basketball not only in the state but maybe the country," Van Lier said that night. "Uniontown, Midland, Schenley and Ambridge could play with anybody, anytime and in any era in the country."[3]

Playing careerEdit


Van Lier's modest 6'1" stature and his emphasis on defense kept him under the radar of stardom, and he was not recruited by major basketball powers. He attended Saint Francis University of Pennsylvania, where he eventually emerged as a standout point guard. He graduated from Saint Francis University in 1969.[4]


Chicago BullsEdit

The Chicago Bulls selected Van Lier in the third round of the 1969 NBA draft, but immediately traded him to the Cincinnati Royals, with whom he led the NBA in assists in 1971. The Bulls then reacquired Van Lier during the 1971–72 season, and he remained with the Bulls until 1978, appearing in three All-Star games (1974, 1976, 1977) over the course of six seasons.

Nicknamed "Stormin' Norman" for his tenacity and aggression, Van Lier was one of the most popular Bulls players of the 1970s.[citation needed] During his ten-year career, Van Lier was named to three NBA All-Defense First Teams and five NBA All-Defense Second Teams. He was named to the All-NBA Second Team in 1974. Van Lier was waived by the Bulls in October 1978.[5]

Van Lier held the record for the longest field goal in NBA history (84 feet) for 24 years until Baron Davis broke the record on November 17, 2001 (89 feet).[citation needed]

Time with Milwaukee and retirementEdit

After playing briefly with the Milwaukee Bucks, he retired in 1979 with career totals of 8,770 points and 5,217 assists.

Post-playing careerEdit

Van Lier served as a color analyst on Bulls radio broadcasts from 1980 to 1982. In 1989 he was the assistant coach of the Worcester Counts in the World Basketball League. From 1992 to 2009, he was a television pre-game and post-game analyst for Chicago Bulls games. He frequently appeared on other Chicago television programs to discuss the Bulls, and at one point co-hosted a sports talk radio show.[3]

Van Lier was the head basketball coach for the Worcester Vocational Technical High School team during part of the 1989–90 season. His team reached the Massachusetts Division II championship game.[6]

Van Lier also served as a special disc jockey on the Chicago rock music station 97.9 WLUP.[7] In 2002 and 2004, he had supporting roles in the movies Barbershop and Barbershop 2: Back in Business.[8]


On February 25, 2009, Van Lier was unexpectedly absent from his scheduled television appearance on Comcast SportsNet following a Bulls game. He was found dead in his apartment in Chicago's Near West Side neighborhood on February 26, 2009.[9] Fellow Bulls broadcaster and former Bulls head coach Johnny "Red" Kerr also died later that day.[10]

NBA career statisticsEdit

1969–70 Royals 81 35.7 5.0 6.2 9.5
1970–71 Royals 82 40.5 7.1 10.1 16.0
1971–72 Royals/Bulls 79 30.6 4.5 6.9 11.5
1972–73 Bulls 80 36.0 5.5 7.1 13.9
1973–74 Bulls 80 35.8 4.7 6.9 14.3
1974–75 Bulls 70 37.0 4.7 5.8 15.0
1975–76 Bulls 76 39.8 5.4 6.6 12.6
1976–77 Bulls 82 37.8 4.5 7.8 10.2
1977–78 Bulls 78 32.4 3.6 6.8 7.3
1978–79 Bucks 38 14.6 1.1 4.2 2.8
Career N/A 746 35.1 4.8 7.0 11.8


  1. ^ a b Ben Joravsky. "Back in the Game". Chicago Reader. July 21, 1994. Retrieved on March 4, 2009
  2. ^ White, Mike (August 27, 2006). "WPIAL 100 years: These are the athletes who have helped define it". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  3. ^ a b Jim Frasier. ""Midland's Norm Van Lier inducted into WPIAL Hall of Fame"". Archived from the original on October 10, 2008. Retrieved September 26, 2013.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link). New Pittsburgh Courier. July 3, 2008. Retrieved on February 27, 2009.
  4. ^ 2005 Saint Francis University Alumni Directory p. 319.
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ Van Lier Goes Back To Basics
  7. ^ Feder, Robert (June 10, 2005). "Familiar voice helps WXRT cut to the Chase". Chicago Sun-Times. p. 73.
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Sad day for Bulls: Van Lier, Kerr die". STLtoday. February 27, 2009. Retrieved July 19, 2016.

External linksEdit