The End of 48 Minutes Of Intensity (Honoring Norman Van Lier)
A tragic, tragic event has happened today. Norm Van Lier, former player and current broadcaster for the Chicago Bulls, passed away at the age of 61 today. As many of you may have guessed, my handle, “Stormin Norman Disciple”, is an ode to Norm’s voracious passion for the game and life in general. I always looked up to him for those reasons. I am not the only one who is weeping for Stormin’ Norman today, all Chicago will miss him greatly.
Growing up, my father always used to tell me about the toughest back-court in the NBA when he was growing up. Although Jerry Sloan and Norm Van Lier were not always the most talented or best back-court in basketball, they were known for being big, strong defenders that never gave an inch. The Bulls were in their infancy, coming into the league as an expansion team in the late 1960s, but Norm gave them an identity and helped lead the Bulls to 4 straight 50 win seasons in the early 1970s. As a player he averaged 11.8 points 4.8 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game for his career, but he was better known for his shutdown defense on big and quick guards alike. Also, how many guards do you know that average 5 rebounds a game? Not many.
Most of us are too young to remember those days, but I know my father’s stories about his passion made a huge impression on me. For most of us, Norm Van Lier was the voice of reason as a broadcaster. His famous line, which he repeated over and over again was when he pleaded with the Bulls over the last ten years to give “48 minutes of intensity” every night. He knew better than most that you can make up for a lack of talent if you have heart and leave everything on the court. His analyses of the team and organization were straightforward and unfiltered. He was never afraid to criticize or call out players and coaches, but he never did it gratuitously.
Stormin Norman is in a better place now, but his legacy here will live on in those of us who were lucky enough to experience his strong opinions and love of the game.
We’ll miss you Norm.