January 1, 1959 |
|Listed height||6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)|
|Listed weight||175 lb (79 kg)|
|High school||Dunbar (Chicago, Illinois)|
|NBA draft||1980 / Round: 1 / Pick: 10th overall|
|Selected by the Portland Trail Blazers|
|1985–1986||Los Angeles Lakers|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Points||1,816 (7.3 ppg)|
|Rebounds||473 (1.9 rpg)|
|Assists||1,003 (4.0 apg)|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
Ronnie Lester (born January 1, 1959) is an American retired basketball player. Lester had previously worked as a scout for the Phoenix Suns from the years 2013 through the 2015 season.
High school career
Born in Mississippi, Lester grew up in Chicago, Illinois. He graduated Dunbar Vocational High School in 1976. Lester started on the varsity team as a 5'6" sophomore. In between seasons he grew to 6'2". He averaged ten points and ten assists per game in his junior campaign. As a senior, Lester averaged twenty-seven (27) points per game. The Dunbar "Mighty-Men" season came to an abrupt end by losing to Morgan Park. Lester was named to the All-City and All-State teams.
Basketball Hall of Fame coach Lute Olson, then of the University of Iowa, was among the first to recognize Lester's talent. At Iowa, Lester was a four-year starter, earning All-American honors in 1979, and First Team All-Big Ten honors in 1978 and 1979. He led the Iowa Hawkeyes to a share of the 1979 Big Ten title and to the Final Four of the 1980 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament. He led Iowa to a share of the 1979 Big Ten Title and a Final Four appearance in 1980.
In his senior season, Lester missed 15 Big Ten games due to a knee injury. At the time he left the lineup, Iowa was undefeated and ranked among the top ten teams in the nation. He returned to the Hawkeye lineup on March 1, 1980, for the final game of the regular season against the University of Illinois. With the consent of Illinois Head Coach Lou Henson, the Iowa Athletic Department delayed the game in order to hold a ceremony to retire Lester's jersey, and number (12). At that time, Lester already owned the Iowa records for scoring and assists. In addition to missing 15 games, Lester's assist record was all the more remarkable given that he shared playing time (and hence, ball touches) with two other players ranked among Iowa's top ten in career assists.
Nineteen regular season wins earned Iowa a five seed in the East Regional of the NCAA Tournament (then, a 36 team field). In the four tournament wins that took Iowa to the Final Four, Lester dished out 26 assists while committing only seven turnovers. He scored Iowa's first ten points in the semi-final game against Louisville, but after eight minutes of play reinjured his knee and left the game. In Lester's absence, Louisville bested Iowa by eight points and went on to win the tournament. Not counting the Louisville game, the 1980 Iowa Hawkeyes were 15-1 with Lester, and 8-9 without him.
Even after the further success Lute Olson enjoyed at the University of Arizona (including four Final Four appearances, a National Championship, and players like Mike Bibby, Gilbert Arenas, and Jason Terry), Olson regards Lester as the best player he ever coached. Hall of Famer Earvin "Magic" Johnson, who played two seasons at Michigan State University, once claimed Lester the toughest opponent he ever faced in the Big Ten.
Lester was the 10th pick in the first round of the 1980 NBA Draft, selected by the Portland Trail Blazers. He was immediately traded to the Chicago Bulls, where he played four seasons. In 1985 and 1986 Lester was a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, winning an NBA Championship in the first of those two seasons. Of his seven seasons as a player in the NBA, all but two were shortened by the recurring knee injury. In his best season (1982), he averaged 12 points, three rebounds, and five assists in 75 games for the Bulls (playing with Reggie Theus, Artis Gilmore, David Greenwood, Ricky Sobers, and Orlando Woolridge).
In the 1987-88 NBA season, Lester began working for the Lakers organization as a scout. He later served as the team's assistant general manager through the 2010-2011 season when his contract was not renewed. As a member of the Los Angeles Lakers front Office, he won 6 NBA championships and 10 Western Conference championships.
- "How Ronnie Lester Became a Hawkeye". www.hawkeyesports.com. Retrieved 2016-03-26.
- "Ronnie Lester, one of the U. of Iowa's best basketball players ever, is losing his assistant GM job with the L.A. Lakers". The Gazette. Retrieved 2016-03-26.
- Suns Announce Basketball Operations Moves
After two years as a scout with the Phoenix Suns, Lester decided not to renew his contract. 
- Ronnie Lester