Photo courtesy of Arizona State University.
Lafayette "Fat" Lever returned to his alma mater Thursday night to have his number retired by the Sun Devils at Wells Fargo Arena.
TEMPE -- No way is Fat Lever 51 years old. Yet he is, and although it's been thirty years since he suited up in maroon and gold of Arizona State, you'd hardly know it. Honestly, the slender 6-foot-3 Lever looks like he can still play.
Lever had time between Sacramento Kings games this week to return home to Arizona and have his No. 12 retired to the rafters at Wells Fargo Arena Thursday night. The honor meant a great deal to the veteran of 11 NBA seasons, who spent his four college seasons at ASU that ended in 1982.
Lever, now director of player personnel for the Kings, averaged 16.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game as a senior before being taken 11th overall by the Portland Trailblazers in the NBA draft.
"It's one of those moments that you never think about," said Lever, who joined former teammate Byron Scott and ex-Devils Lionel Hollins and Joe Caldwell. "But when that time comes, you treasure it and you live in the moment."
Lever was presented a framed jersey at midcourt at halftime of the ASU-Washington game, then watched with his family as his jersey was unfurled from a catwalk at the arena amid cheers.
Lever reflected on time spent with his teammates in those years in Tempe. He said he feels Sun Devils coach Herb Sendek has installed the things that make up a good basketball program, including the welcoming of former players into the family of ASU basketball, and thanked Sendek for the opportunity to return and connect with the team.
Lever noted that the Sun Devils are struggling, but those struggles come largely from injuries, Lever said, adding that he follows the Pac-12 closely.
"Coach Sendek and his staff are making those adjustments," Lever said, mentioning the importance of getting players with a lot of talent on the team.
"As far as going forward, you want to aim for the top."
Lever's NBA career that took him to Portland, Denver and Dallas included two All-Star Game appearances. He was known for a knack for rebounding from his position and averaged 6 rebounds a game over his career.