Just a few words of thanks to the great Norm Van Lier, who was found dead yesterday.

To those of us who came of age in the 70s, Norm was the man. No doubt about. He played basketball with heart and soul and passion–an inspiration to us all. But his greatness extended beyond how he played the game. It was how he lived his life. For me, he was Jimi Hendrix in a hoops uniform: he was his own man. He crossed all racial lines and divides. He was the coolest guy alive.

Fourteen years ago I wrote a profile of Norm for the Chicago Reader. Photographer Jon Randolph and I had a blast doing that story. I hope you like reading it as much as I loved writing it.

God bless you, Norm. I miss you already.