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BACKGROUND
A powerful 7-foot center out of Arizona State, Alton Lister has patrolled the paint for four teams in his 15-year NBA career. In his prime Lister was a solid rebounder and a preeminent shotblocker for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Seattle SuperSonics. He blocked at least 100 shots in each of his first eight seasons and helped the Bucks to five straight division titles in the early 1980s. Selected by the Bucks in the first round of the 1981 NBA Draft, Lister spent his first three seasons coming off the bench for often-injured veteran Bob Lanier. In 1984-85, the year after Lanier's retirement, Lister tallied 9.9 points and 8.0 rebounds per game while shooting .538 from the floor. He also ranked ninth in the league in blocks with 2.06 per game. Throughout Lister's five years in Milwaukee, the Bucks were the toast of the Central Division. Under Coach Don Nelson they won at least 50 games each year and advanced to the conference finals in both 1984 and 1986. Milwaukee never did reach the NBA Finals in those seasons, however, giving way to the Philadelphia 76ers or the Boston Celtics. After the Bucks' 1985-86 season ended with a bitter loss to Boston in the conference finals, Lister was traded to Seattle with a pair of first-round draft picks for Jack Sikma and two second-round draft picks. Lister had a career season with the SuperSonics in 1986-87, as he averaged 11.6 points and 9.4 rebounds in 30.5 minutes per game. He also ranked fifth in the league in blocks with 2.40 per game. Seattle barely made the playoffs, then battled all the way to the Western Conference Finals before falling to the Los Angeles Lakers. In 1989, after two more solid seasons in Seattle, Lister was reunited with Nelson when the Sonics traded him to the Golden State Warriors for a first-round draft choice. His first season with the Warriors ended in disappointment, however, when Lister ruptured an Achilles tendon in the team's third game. He sat out the rest of the year but returned to play 77 games in 1990-91, leading the Warriors in rebounding with 6.3 boards per game. Lister spent two more seasons with Golden State, mostly at the end of the Warriors' bench. After seeing action in just 20 games in 1992-93, he retired. Lister got the urge to play again in 1994-95 and came out of retirement to play in 60 games for the Milwaukee Bucks, who were looking for veteran leadership. He started 32 games in the middle, and helped lead the Bucks to a 14-game turnaround from the previous season. Lister was traded to Boston early in the 1995-96 campaign and contributed his experience and leadership to a young, rebuilding Celtics team. Though no longer a scoring threat and capable only of limited minutes, he was re-signed by the Celtics for 1996-97 and appeared in 53 games. His rights were renounced by Boston following the season but he was signed as a free agent by Portland, for whom he played seven games in 1997-98 at the age of 39.

1997-98 SEASON
Lister was signed as a free agent by Portland on October 2, 1997, but played in only seven games for the Blazers. He was on the injured list three times for a total of 44 games, twice for tendinitis in his left knee and once for a right shoulder infection. He totaled six points and 11 rebounds in 44 minutes of action over his seven games, scoring all his points and getting four of his rebounds in 14 minutes at San Antonio on April 6. Lister also appeared briefly in two playoff games for the Blazers, scoring two points and pulling down two rebounds in a total of 11 minutes.


1996-97 NOTES
Lister missed the first 22 games of the season due to a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder, undergoing surgery on Nov. 8. He was activated on Dec. 21 and appeared in 53 games, making two starts, averaging 1.6 points and 3.2 rebounds in 9.7 minutes per game. He scored a season-high 10 points in a 118-106 loss at Portland on Feb. 16, and grabbed a season-high nine rebounds in a 136-111 loss at Charlotte on April 9. He also had eight points and seven rebounds in a 104-102 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Dec. 30. Lister was one of nine players whose rights were renounced by the Celtics on July 7 when they cleared salary cap room to sign center Travis Knight as a veteran free agent.

1995-96 NOTES
Lister played in seven games, making five starts, for Milwaukee before he was traded on Nov. 26 along with Todd Day for Sherman Douglas. The veteran pivotman went on to appear in 57 games for the Celtics and started 14 of the team's last 16 contests. He hauled down 10 or more rebounds in nine of those 14 starts, showing he could still contribute when called upon. In his first start as a Celtic, he grabbed 13 rebounds against Denver on March 22. Other big games during his late-season spurt included a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds at Minnesota on March 27, a game-high 15 rebounds at Philadelphia on March 29, 14 rebounds against Atlanta on March 31, 12 rebounds against Detroit on April 7 and 13 rebounds at New Jersey on April 19. Although he averaged just 11.4 minutes per game, his 4.4 rebounds per game ranked fifth on the team. Lister also contributed 39 blocked shots in his limited playing time. He spent seven games on the injured list during January due to a strained left hamstring.

1994-95 NOTES
Lister got the urge to play again in 1994-95 and came out of retirement to play in 60 games for the Milwaukee Bucks who were looking for veteran leadership. He started 32 games in the middle, and helped lead the Bucks to a 14-game turnaround from the previous season.




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