Jon Teitel's "Forgotten Legends" Series: Louisiana-Lafayette's Dwight "Bo" Lamar

    
January 16th, 2011

In the latest installment in his "Forgotten Legends" interview series, CHN writer Jon Teitel spent some time with UL Lafayette legend Dwight "Bo" Lamar. One of the most prolific scorers in NCAA history, Lamar still ranks second all-time in points scored. The one player he couldn't surpass: the great "Pistol" Pete Maravich. 

Jon Teitel: Who gave you the nickname "Bo" and how do you like it?

Dwight "Bo" Lamar: I like it. My older brother was "Big Bo", so my family just called me Bo.

JT: In 1969 you averaged 18 ppg for Columbus East HS as you and teammate Ed Ratleff (a fellow future two-time All-American) led your school to a 25-0 record and won the state title. What was it like to play with Ratleff, and how was your team able to stay focused for every single game that season?

DL: It was beautiful. We had a lot of talent besides me and Ed as our entire starting five that year was good. We played a lot of good competition, which helped us keep our focus.

JT: In the semifinals of the 1970 Bayou Classic you made a half-court shot at the buzzer for a two-point win over Yale, after which the fans stormed the court and hoisted you onto their shoulders. Did you think you were going to make the shot, and where does that rank among the most clutch shots you ever made?

DL: I do not think it was from half court. It was probably only 30-40 feet away from the basket. There is not one clutch shot that stands out in my mind; I thought they were all going in!!

JT: You lost a three-point home game to Baylor during your sophomore year, then never lost another home game during the rest of your career. How close did you come to winning that game, and how big of a home-court advantage did your fans provide?

DL: That Baylor game was a close one. Our fans were the greatest, so playing at Blackman Coliseum was a big advantage.

JT: In 1971 you scored a school-record 62 points in a three-point overtime win over Northeast Louisiana. Was it just one of those scenarios where every shot you put up seemed to go in because you were "in the zone", and how did you have the energy left to keep scoring in OT?

DL: I do not think that it was one of my better games. Everything just fell into place. I was reliving this game with a teammate just a couple of weeks ago. I made a shot late in regulation to send it into OT, and then scored another seven points in OT.

JT: In 1971 you led all of Division II with an average of 36 ppg. Did you feel like you were the best player in the country, and what is your secret for scoring?

DL: The secret for scoring was my teammates. They had to want to give me the ball. I do not know if I was the best player in the country, but I felt like I was one of the best scoring guards. There are not too many guys who led the nation in scoring while also winning a lot of games, so I am very proud of that.

JT: What are your memories of the 1971 NCAA Division II Tournament (Lamar scored 44 points in a win over Assumption before losing to eventual champion Evansville)?

DL: I remember that we beat every #1 team in the country...but still ended up 3rd. It was a great time for Louisiana basketball, as Louisiana Tech and LSU were both rated #1 during that season.

JT: What are your memories of the 1972 NCAA Tournament (Lamar scored 35 points and had a school record (for tournament play) 11 assists in a win over Marshall, then scored 29 points on 14-for-42 FG in a four-point loss to Louisville, which is still tied for the second-most shots ever taken in a tourney game)?

DL: The Louisville game was a tough loss due to a controversial over-and-back call late in the game.

JT: What are your memories of the 1973 NCAA Tournament (Lamar scored 35 points in a win over Houston, then scored 18 in a three-point loss to Kansas State)?

DL: It was a bitter pill to swallow. We thought we had a great chance to get to the Final Four and play UCLA so we might have gotten caught napping. What I remember most is that my good friend Chuckie Williams was on the Kansas State team at the time.

JT: You averaged 29.2 PPG in your six-game tournament career, which is still in the Top 10 all-time. How were you able to play your best when it mattered the most?

DL: It is a combination of several factors: God-given talent, hard work, and good teammates/coaches.

JT: Your 3,493 career points is still second all-time in Division I history (behind only Pete Maravich). Do you consider yourself one of the best players in NCAA history and do you think anyone will ever bump you down to #3?

DL: If they have not scored 3,500 points by now with the three-point shot, I do not think they ever will. All records are made to be broken...but I do not think that anyone will ever break Pistol's record. The circumstances of the sport these days will not allow it.

JT: In the summer of 1973 you were drafted in the third round by Detroit (six spots ahead of Larry Kenon), but you ended up starting your pro career in the ABA. Why did you end up choosing the ABA over the NBA, and do you have any regrets?

DL: Hindsight is always 20/20, so if I knew back then that the ABA would fold then I definitely would have gone to Detroit. I think the ABA was just in such a hurry to merge with the NBA that they overlooked the talent they had. The NBA had a couple of great centers like Bill Walton and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but the ABA had a bunch of great young centers (including Moses Malone, Artis Gilmore and Dan Issel). I was told by Kentucky Colonels owner John Y. Brown that he wanted to buy a TV station to showcase our talent, and I think that if that had happened then the league would still be alive today.

JT: As a rookie in 1974 you led the ABA with 69 three pointers made and scored a team-record 50 points in a game against Indiana. How were you able to come in and contribute so quickly and what is your secret for three-point shooting?

DL: The only secret is God-given talent. We had a young team that started two other rookies in addition to me (Tim Bassett and Caldwell Jones), so I was able to play right away and learn as I went.

JT: In the 1974 ABA Western Division Semifinals you averaged 27.5 ppg in a losing effort to Utah, which was just behind Dr. J for the highest playoff average that season. Where does Dr. J rank among the best players you ever saw, and do you consider yourself one of the best scorers in ABA history?

DL: I think my three-year ABA history was too short to put myself in that category. A lot of my heroes in the ABA had great careers, guys like Steve Jones and Ron Boone. If the league would have lasted a little longer, then I would like to think that I could have been one of the best ABA scorers ever. I really like Wilt Chamberlain. He and Kareem were probably the two best players I have ever seen.

JT: In 1977 you went back to the NBA to play for the Lakers, and despite playing with NBA MVP Kareem Abdul-Jabbar you ended up getting swept by the eventual champion Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Finals. What was the biggest difference between the ABA and NBA, and where does that Portland team rank among the best you have ever seen?

DL: That Portland team was one of the best. If my teammate Kermit Washington had not gotten hurt then I think it would have been a different series.

Lamar is also on Jon's list of best fantasy players in Sun Belt history.

Arkansas State: John Dickson (1967) 1891 PTS (#2), 1139 REB (#2), 62.5 FG% (#2), 2-time All-American, conference POY

Arkansas-Little Rock: Derek Fisher (1996) 1393 PTS (#3), 472 AST (#2), 184 STL (#2), All-American, conference POY

Denver: Harry Hollines (1968) 1879 PTS (#1), 2-time All-American

Florida Atlantic: Earnest Crumbley (2004) 1559 PTS (#1), 505 AST (#1), 181 STL (#1), 286 3PM (#1), 79.2 FT% (#3)

Florida International: Dwight Stewart (1993) 2101 PTS (#1), 806 REB (#2), 264 AST (#2), 128 BLK (#1), 172 STL (#3)

UL Lafayette: Dwight "Bo" Lamar (1973) 3493 PTS (#1), 520 AST (#4), 3-time All-American, conference POY

UL Monroe: Calvin Natt (1979) 2581 PTS (#1), 1285 REB (#1), 57.4 FG% (#4), 3-time All-American, conference POY

Middle Tennessee State: Kerry Hammonds (1989) 1616 PTS (#3), 955 REB (#2)

North Texas: Kenneth Lyons (1983) 2291 PTS (#1), 1095 REB (#1), 2-time All-American

South Alabama: Jeff Hodge (1989) 2221 PTS (#1), 461 AST (#2), 223 STL (#2), All-American, conference POY

Troy: Anthony Reed (1990) 1875 PTS (#1), 913 REB (#3), 149 STL (#5), 57.9 FG% (#2), All-American

Western Kentucky: Jim McDaniels (1971) 2238 PTS (#1), 1118 REB (#4), 3-time All-American, 2-time conference POY