Lafayette Lever, better known as Fat Lever started garnering success in his basketball journey during his college years.
Lever played four years of collegiate basketball at Arizona State University. While there, he was teammates with another former Maverick, Kurt Nimphius. In two of his four years there, the Sun Devils made the NCAA Tournament. During his sophomore season, the Sun Devils made the NCAA Tournament a #5 seed and lost to the Ohio State Buckeyes in the second round. They made the tournament again as a #2 seed the following year but lost again in the second round to the University of Kansas Jayhawks.
During Lever’s four years at ASU, he averaged 10.1 points per game (PPG), 4.0 rebounds per game (RPG), 3.9 assists per game (APG), and 2.1 steals per game (SPG). He was named onto two All-Pac-10 first teams in his junior and senior year.
Lever was drafted by the Portland Trailblazers 11th overall in the 1982 NBA Draft. He played in Portland for two seasons, where he averaged 8.8 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 4.9 APG, and 1.8 SPG. During the 1984 off-season, he was traded to the Denver Nuggets. As part of the Nuggets, he averaged 17.0 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 7.5 APG, and 2.5 SPG in his six seasons there. He made one All-NBA second team in 1987, one All-Defensive second team in 1988, and became a two-time All-Star with the Nuggets, once in 1988 and again in 1990. Lever then got traded by the Nuggets to the Dallas Mavericks during the 1990 off-season.
Time in Dallas
His time in Dallas did not start off on the right foot. Four games into the season he got a knee injury that required surgery and missed the rest of the season. In his four games played during the 1990-1991 season, Lever averaged 7.3 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 3.0 APG, and 1.5 SPG. He came off the bench in all four games.
Knee injuries continued to hamper his time in Dallas as he played only in 31 games the following season, starting in five of them. In those 31 games, Lever averaged 11.2 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 3.5 APG, and 1.4 SPG. Due to his nagging knee injuries, he missed the whole 1992-1993 season.
The 1993-1994 season would be Lever’s final one in the NBA. He played in 81 games, while starting in 54 of them, the most games played and started in a season during his Mavericks tenure. He averaged 6.9 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 2.6 APG, and 2.0 SPG. During, the 1994 off-season Lever was released by the Mavericks and his NBA career came to an end.
Lever averaged 8.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 2.5 APG, and 2.0 SPG as part of the Mavericks. Injuries hampered his Mavericks tenure. During the earlier part of his career, he was predominantly a starting guard but when he joined the Mavericks he was mainly used as a guard off the bench until his final season with them where he became a starting guard for most of the season. Lever was a guard that could help his team on both ends of the floor, as he was able to put up points while on offense and get a bunch of steals while on defense. He was one of the NBA’s most well-rounded guards as he averaged 13.9 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 6.2 APG, and 2.2 SPG throughout his career. He was awarded for his well-rounded style of play by becoming a two-time All-Star, making an All-NBA second team, and an NBA All-Defensive second team.
Lever had his #12 jersey retired by his alma mater, ASU, in 2012. The Denver Nuggets also retired his #12 jersey in 2017.
Lever had a memorable career that injuries put an end to. The Mavericks didn’t get to witness his full potential due to the injuries he sustained while on the team. Despite the injuries that he experienced later in his career, he was rewarded for his hard work in college and the NBA with a handful of honors.
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