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Erik Brady: Niagara's Larry Costello key part of Milwaukee Bucks' championship lineage

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UCLA basketball star Lew Alcindor puts his signature on a professional contract with the Milwaukee Bucks in 1969. Bucks general manager and vice president John Erickson, right, and coach Larry Costello, rear, look on.

The Milwaukee Bucks won the NBA championship once, 50 years ago, in a Finals sweep of the Baltimore Bullets. Tonight the Bucks will try to tie the Phoenix Suns at two games apiece in this season’s finals.

Those Bucks of yore are best remembered for Lew Alcindor, then a young center, and Oscar Robertson, then a veteran guard. Less remembered is the man who coached them. And Larry Costello ought to be remembered, especially around here.

He is Niagara University’s own. Think of him as a bridge between the NBA’s early days and its modern era – from set shot to skyhook.

Costello was reputedly the NBA’s last player to shoot the two-handed set shot. And he was the first NBA coach for Alcindor, later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. His famed skyhook found net often enough to make him the NBA’s career scoring leader at the time he retired, just as his coach had been Niagara’s career scoring leader at the time he graduated.

Ben believes the Bucks need to win the next two games at home in order to have a chance to win the series.

Costello played on the 1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers, led by Wilt Chamberlain, who won a then-record 68 games in the regular season and went 12-1 in the postseason on their way to a title. A few years later, Costello’s........

© The Buffalo News

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