Fat Lever of Arizona State University, ca 1980s. Courtesy Arizona State University Submitted Photo

In celebration of Arizona's centennial, the Star will feature our picks for the 100 best athletes, moments and teams.

Throughout the summer, we will showcase our list - with the first 90 in no particular order. In August, columnist Greg Hansen will choose his top 10, with a column on each.

Fat Lever


One of Tucson's top prep basketball players ever, Lever was a two-time NBA All-Star after starring at Pueblo High School and Arizona State.

Originally named Lafayette, Lever led Pueblo to state championships in 1977 and 1978. Because Pueblo played a spread offense, not showing off Lever's skills, college recruiters didn't fawn over him, and his final college choices were ASU, San Diego State and Colorado, according to Star archives.

After an All-America career with the Sun Devils, the Portland Trail Blazers drafted him 11th overall in 1982. His NBA career ran until 1994, first with Portland until 1984, then Denver until 1990 and finally Dallas until 1994.

Lever averaged 13.9 points, six rebounds and 6.2 assists during his career. As one of the league's top point guards in the late 1980s, he finished as the Nuggets' all-time steals leader and second in assists. In his best season, he averaged 19.8 points, 9.3 rebounds and 7.9 assists in 1988-89. He finished with more than 40 career triple-doubles.

Among his honors, Pueblo named its gym after him in 1988, and he was inducted into the Pima County Sports Hall of Fame in 1990.

Slim at 6 feet 3 inches and 170 pounds, Lever did not get his nickname from his appearance. "Fat" originated from his younger brother, who had trouble saying "Lafayette."

Hometown, current age

Pine Bluff, Ark.; 50

He said it:

"People here were telling me it's the wrong decision. That I should have stayed home or have gone someplace else. But they have enough guards there. I didn't think I'd fit in." - Lever on why he chose ASU over UA in the Star in 1999

Sarah Trotto