Seasons with Bulls:
April 1, 1947 in East Liverpool, Ohio
February 26, 2009 (aged 61)
Saint Francis (PA) (1966–1969)
1969 / Round: 3 / Pick: 34th overall
Selected by the Chicago Bulls
“Norm Van Lier was one of the all-time greats ever to put on a Chicago Bulls uniform,” said Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. “Along with Jerry Sloan, he set a standard for Bulls defense and toughness which we will never forget and which we will always strive to replicate. We will miss him greatly, and extend our deepest sympathies to his family and his many friends.”
“I was saddened to learn of Norm’s passing and offer condolences to the Van Lier family on behalf of the entire NBA family,” added NBA Commissioner David Stern. “Norm was passionate about the game of basketball and a great competitor on the court. He will be remembered by many for teaming up with Jerry Sloan to form one of the best defensive backcourts of any era. Norm was a complete player, a wonderful passer, a tenacious rebounder and an original character in the 1970s. We are all fortunate that Norm continued to share his passion and insight as a broadcaster for the Bulls since the early ’90s. The NBA lost a great ambassador and friend today.”
“Norm Van Lier was a great teammate and a close friend,” stated Utah Jazz Head Coach Jerry Sloan. “He was a terrific competitor and was very difficult to play against. We always had a strong bond, to the point he babysat my kids on a number of occasions when we were playing together. Even though we didn’t get to see each as other as often as we would have liked in recent years, there was always a great friendship there. My deepest sympathies go out to his family.”
Van Lier was the full-time pre/post-game analyst on Comcast SportsNet, Fox Sports Net and SportsChannel since the 1992-93 season. This season had marked Van Lier’s fourth as an analyst on Bulls Pregame Live and Bulls Postgame Live, in addition to making regular appearances on Comcast SportsNet’s ‘Chicago Tribune Live.’ He also spent seven of his 10 NBA seasons with the Bulls and still ranks third to only Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in career assists and steals for a Bull.
“Our entire network is deeply saddened by the sudden loss of our dear friend Norm Van Lier,” stated James J. Corno, President of Comcast SportsNet Chicago. “Norm was easily one of the most popular athletes in Chicago sports history and one of the most popular on-air personalities to ever grace our airwaves. From his start with us on SportsChannel to Comcast SportsNet today, Norm’s passion for the game he loved so much was shared and embraced with his legions of fans. On behalf of everyone at Comcast SportsNet, we send our deepest sympathies to the Van Lier family.”
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 re-acquired Van Lier during the 1971-1972 season. He remained with the Bulls until 1978, appearing in three All-Star games (1974, 1976, 1977) during that tenure.
Nicknamed “Stormin’ Norman” for his tenacity and aggression, Van Lier was one of the most popular Bulls players of the 1970s. 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, played briefly with the Milwaukee Bucks, and retired in 1979 with career totals of 8,770 points and 5,217 assists.
After retirement, Norm became a popular Chicago area broadcaster and had a supporting role in the 2002 movie Barbershop. In 1989, he was the assistant coach of the Worcester Counts in the World Basketball League.