Former Bulls player, commentator Van Lier dies

February 26, 2009 10:19:28 PM PST
Former Bulls star and broadcaster Norman Van Lier has died. Chicago firefighters found Van Lier dead in his Chicago home Thursday morning after being called to do a well-being check. He had two successful careers, one as a player and then in the media on radio and television.

But when he failed to show up for work on Wednesday night at Comcast SportsNet his coworkers decided to send someone to check on him at home this morning. Emergency crews found him lying on the floor. He had apparently been dead for several hours.

Long before the Michael Jordan era, the Bulls teams of Norm Van Lier, Bob Love and Jerry Sloan in the 1970's were the stuff of legend.

Van Lier made three All-star teams not because of natural talent but because of hard work. His former teammate spoke to a group of students on Thursday night and remembered his friend.

"If you were going into battle with an army and wanted to win, you would need a thousand guys just like Norm," said Bob Love, Bulls legend.

No matter what he was doing, Norm Van Lier gave it everything he had. He was passionate about basketball as he was about life itself. And that passion came through when he talked about the Bulls on television.

"He wore it on his sleeves. If the Bulls had a good game, he was up. If the Bulls had a bad game, he was down," said Jim Corno, Comcast SportsNet.

Sports radio hosts spent most of the day remembering Van Lier. He spent nearly two decades in the media after his playing days were over and he loved it.

"I'm also one of those types that had my doors open," said Van Lier.

"People would always come up and recognize him immediately," said Carmen DeFalco, ESPN Radio. "He always had time for everybody."

To longtime Chicagoans he was a familiar face and a friendly one at that.

"I had the privilege of knowing Stormin' Norman for many years. He knew my father as well. And I would like to extend our condolences to his family and friends and especially the teammates on the Chicago Bulls. He's really a great Chicagoan" said Mayor Daley.

Just two weeks ago a number of Bulls legends came together for a half-time tribute for Johnny Red Kerr. Van Lier was present but not on the court, something his friends say bothered him.

"He was a little hurt over that," said Ernie Scatton ESPN Radio. "They need to retire his number."

Norm Van Lier had a history of heart trouble and wore a pacemaker. But ironically had just changed medicine and told his friends he felt great. The medical examiner's office is planning an autopsy on Friday to determine his cause of death. Norm Van Lier was 61 years old.


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