Monday, March 13, 2006

Historical Glimpses: Lafayette “Fat” Lever

(FortCollins-CO) It was high time that the Nugg Doctor provides a Historical Glimpse into one of the greatest Nuggets of all-time. The obvious choice was Alex English, but the not so apparent nominee that is just as deserving is Lafayette “Fat” Lever. Lever received this nickname from his brother who found it much easier to pronounce than his full name of Lafayette. Lever certainly didn’t have a weight problem at a mere 180 pounds soaking wet. Lever was a personal favorite of mine, and many, while he was a Denver Nugget. With an alias like “Fat” how could you not love this guy?

A friend of mine’s father at Arizona State University recruited Lafayette Lever. I remember him saying that Fat was an incredible talent and one of the best rebounding players at 6’3” he had ever seen. With that kind of insight, and the statistical resume backing it up, it makes you realize just how great Lever was. The NBA realized his potential too. Lever was drafted in the 1982 draft by the Portland Trailblazers with the eleventh pick overall. Lever would only play two seasons in the Pacific Northwest before a deal that involved Kiki Vandeveghe and two draft picks sent him to the Denver Nuggets. It was with the Denver Nuggets that Lafayette would set his career on fire and become a household name in the city of Denver.

While sporting what could be the best uniforms in all of pro sports history, Lafayette would treat the city of Denver to the closest thing to Oscar Robertson Colorado has ever seen. Lever’s best season statistically came extremely close to averaging a triple double. In 1989 Fat would average19.8 points a game, squeeze 9.3 rebounds, and slide 7.9 assists to his teammates. Even more telling of the talent that Fat embodied is the fifth spot on the NBA all-time triple double list that he is currently sitting in with 46. He is up there with some pretty illustrious names; Bird, Robertson, Magic, and Chamberlain are all Hall of Fame players, but will Fat Lever ever be enshrined?

Hall or no Hall, Fat Lever will always be remembered by Nuggets fans. He is the Nuggets all-time leader in steals (1,167), second in assists (3,566), and sixth in scoring (8,081). One record that he is sure to hold on to for quite a long time is the number of triple doubles by a Nugget. Second to Lever’s 46 career triple doubles is Dikembe Mutombo with eight, and the rest of the Nuggets combined only total 21. Lever’s all-time averages read a little something like this: 13.9 points, 6.2 assists, and six rebounds. Fat was a two time NBA All-Star and is a Nugget legend. He played eleven seasons in the NBA in total finishing his career with the Dallas Mavericks, but he will always be remembered as a Nugget.

Now you have the skinny on one of the “Fat-test” Nuggets ever. I hope that Lafayette Lever one day ends up enshrined in Springfield, Massachusetts. If he doesn’t, it’s a shame because he was one of the most complete, and underrated, players of the 1980’s and certainly deserves to be there. He was the consummate professional and for these reasons is this installment of Historical Glimpses.

6 comments:

Nugg Doctor said...

Here it is Foges, you asked for it and you got it. The Historical Glimpse on Lafayette Lever was one of the most interesting research projects I have done in quite some time. Because of his cult status, the information obtained came from various sources (Differing from the usual one or two sources I usually consult). Enjoy Nuggets fans, I certainly did.

The Nugg Doctor

nanananana said...

wow, a nice historical glimpse into another great athlete but now my curiosity is up and I don't want it to get the best of me but "cult status", what does that mean? I hope he gets more recognition, if he wants it, as according to the published stat's here, he certainly deserves it. Thanks doc for the effort you put forth to educate us, I am diggin' it!

Nugg Doctor said...

nananana,

Cult status refers to the fact that not many people outside of Denver knew about his skills, but those in the mile high city really loved him. Therefore, he had a cult following in Denver.

Thanks for Reading,

The Nugg Doctor

The Foges said...

Great, great info Doc. Fat Lever should be talked about as one of the greats. Those Nuggets teams were fun to watch in the '80s. They could put up 125 points on any given night, and a lot of the credit should go to Mr. Lever. There was plenty of talent around him, but he made that offense go.

Thanks for the info Doctor.

Nugg Doctor said...

Foges,

My pleasure, and thanks for reading!

The Nugg Doctor

nuggetshoops said...

Thanks for the taking the time to give props to an all-time Nuggets (and NBA) great that is as you say, very under-rated. Great for some of the newer Nuggets fans of the 2000's to read about our past. He was definitely a triple double threat every night, which is amazing when you realize he was 6'3. I definitely see a little of that same type of player in Andre Miller today - same height and Andre is a pretty darn good rebounder too, watching him rebound in traffic is impressive.

Fat is still in town too, which is cool. Recently ran across some pictures of a team event with 950AM the FAN, where he stopped by to talk hoops.

Great article.