"Where are the Celtics now?"
"Oh, man, that's been bothering me." said Lanier. "I see where the Celtics have slipped out of last place. Man, I hope Seattle doesn't need a big man."
As intriguing as this sort of speculation is, Lanier says his main concern these days is doing his best by the Bonnies. The school's record over his career is a marvelous 50-9, but the age of Lanier has been only bittersweet. Two years ago, when Buffalo Bob was an All-America sophomore, the Bonnies went 22-0 during the regular season and all the fans in Olean and Allegany were even more excited than they had been during the school's 99-game home-court winning streak earlier in the decade. But when they went up against North Carolina in the NCAA East Regional, the Bonnies were thrashed 91-72, a defeat of such demoralizing proportions that they were bombed again by Columbia in the consolation game.
"That team was slow, oh, man, were we slow," says Kalbaugh. "It's amazing that nobody found out until the end of the season how slow we were. But I said then that we would be back."
Not during Lanier's junior year, though. Right before the start of the season, the NCAA charged Coach Weise with a minor recruiting violation and barred the team from tournaments for one year. Early on, the Bonnies were playing so purposelessly that they once lost four straight, and there was criticism, mostly about how fat and lazy Lanier looked. "I must admit, that made me mad." said Lanier. The Bonnies won 11 of their last 13 games.
Even with Lanier a lot trimmer and smarter after a summer at camp with his pal Willis Reed, the Bonnies were grossly overlooked before this season—but that lasted only until they met Duquesne at home in early December. With Lanier getting 29 points, Bonaventure almost ran the Dukes into the Allegheny River.
That was their most impressive game until the final of New York's Holiday Festival, when they unlit Rick's Rocket and pounded Purdue 91-75. While Mount was struggling for 19 points, Lanier hit 18 of 22 shots from the floor and scored 50 points.
Afterward, the old Celtic, Frank Ramsey, interviewed Lanier for TV.
"Are you going all the way?"
"Damn right," said Lanier.