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 Former Bulls star Norm Van Lier dead at 61

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PostSubject: Former Bulls star Norm Van Lier dead at 61   2/26/2009, 4:02 pm

Norm Van Lier, one of the most popular players in Bulls history, was found dead in his Chicago apartment today.

He was 61. The cause of death was not released, pending a report by the Cook County medical examiner.

Van Lier had been working as a Bulls analyst for ComcastSportsnet Chicago after 10-year playing career.

A two-sport star in high school in Midland, Pa., near Pittsburgh, Van Lier rejected a number of football scholarship offers to play basketball at St. Francis University and was the Bulls' third-round draft pick in the 1969 NBA draft.

He was immediately dealt to the Cincinnati Royals and flourished as a point guard under coach Bob Cousy, leading the NBA in assists with 10.1 per game in 1970-71.

The Bulls reacquired him the following season and he went on to become a fixture at guard on a consistently strong club, teaming with Jerry Sloan to give the Bulls one of the toughest and most effective backcourts in the NBA.

His football background influenced Van Lier's playing style; he was known as "Stormin' Norman" throughout his career because of his defensive ferocity and his willingness to mix it up with much larger players.

The Bulls of Sloan, Van Lier, Bob Love, Chet Walker and Tom Boerwinkle made the playoffs five straight years and Van Lier was named to the first or second NBA All-Defense team eight times during his career. The Bull released him in 1978 and he finished his playing career that season with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Van Lier dabbled in coaching but found a home as a broadcaster in recent years, settling in as a Bulls game analyst on ComcastSportsnet Chicago.

Van Lier appeared in three All-Star games (1974, 1976, 1977). He retired in January 1979 with career totals of 8,770 points and 5,217 assists.

Van Lier was a member of the 1965 Midland High School basketball team that went undefeated and captured the state championship. Van Lier was an AP and UPI all-state choice in basketball.

In his final two years at St. Francis, Van Lier led his team in scoring, averaging 18.8 as a junior and 21.0 as a senior.

A two-time honorable mention All-America selection buy The Sporting News, he left the college as the school's all-time assist leader. He earned his bachelor of arts degree in history and special education.

CLTV will carry a special edition of "Garrard McClendon Live" on Van Lier's death tonight at 6:30 p.m. with a rebroadcast at 9:30 p.m.

http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com

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