A Chicago newspaper reported that Van Lier was found dead inside his apartment a few blocks from the United Center Thursday afternoon. The cause of death has yet to be determined.
The Chicago Fire Department was apparently summoned there on a wellness check because Van Lier had missed an appearance on television following the Bulls- Nets game Wednesday night.
"Norm Van Lier was one of the all-time greats ever to put on a Chicago Bulls uniform," said team chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. "Along with Jerry Sloan, he set a standard for Bulls defense and toughness which we will never forget. We will miss him greatly and extend our deepest sympathies to his family and his many friends."
Van Lier's career spanned from 1969-79 and included three teams, but his best years came as a member of the Bulls, for whom he starred from 1971 until the end of the 1977-78 season.
A third-round pick of Chicago in the 1969 draft, Van Lier spent the first two- plus years of his NBA career with the Cincinnati Royals before being dealt to Chicago 10 games into the 1971-72 season. He finished his career with the Milwaukee Bucks in 1978-79, a three-time All-Star.
Van Lier averaged 11.8 points, 7.0 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game over 746 contests. His best season came in 1974-75, when the Ohio native posted 15.0 points, 5.8 assists and 4.7 boards per game as the Bulls advanced to the Western Conference finals before bowing to eventual champion Golden State.