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.