|This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (September 2008)|
October 1, 1958|
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|High school||Woodrow Wilson (Dallas, Texas)|
San Jacinto JC (1976–1977)|
Arizona State (1978–1981)
|NBA draft||1981 / Round: 1 / Pick: 21st overall|
|Selected by the Milwaukee Bucks|
|Position||Power forward / Center|
|1989–1993||Golden State Warriors|
|1997–1998||Portland Trail Blazers|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NBA statistics|
|Points||6,298 (6.6 ppg)|
|Rebounds||5,996 (6.3 rpg)|
|Blocks||1,473 (1.5 bpg)|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
Lister graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School (Dallas, Texas) (in the Lakewood section of Dallas) in 1976, where he led the Wildcats to many victories and was an All-American and All-State team member. He was inducted into Woodrow's Hall of Fame in 1990.
The 7' 0" Lister played at San Jacinto Junior College, where he was a teammate of future NBA journeyman shooting guard Oliver Mack. He led the Dragons in rebounding and received All-American honors. He later transferred to Arizona State, becoming teammates with future NBA player Byron Scott. Lister's senior season averages of 15.4 points and 9.7 rebounds contributed to the Sun Devils having a school record of 16-2 in the Pac-10 and 24-4 overall and being ranked fifth in the nation for the 1980-1981 season. The season, capped with a win over the top-ranked then-undefeated Oregon State, had Lister earn honorable mention All-America honors by the Associated Press and Street & Smith's, All-Pac-10 honors, and his team's Most Improved Player award.
A two-year starter in his three years with Arizona State, Lister was inducted into the Arizona State Hall of Fame in 2000 after a career that saw him average 8.2 rebounds and post 148 career blocks. Lister as a member of the 1980 USA Olympic basketball team was the second Sun Devil to be selected for the United States Olympic team. However, he was unable to participate due to the United States Olympic Committee's decision to boycott the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games on the orders of President Jimmy Carter.
Lister was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round (21st overall) of the 1981 NBA Draft. He would consider Bob Lanier his mentor during his time with the Bucks, where he averaged around 8.1 ppg, 7 rpg and 1.8 bpg while only playing 24 minutes a night in his five-year stint with the Bucks. In the 1982-83 season, Lister received 5 points in the NBA MVP voting even though he only averaged 8.4 points and 7.1 rebounds and started in 37 games.
After the 1986 season he was dealt to Seattle for Jack Sikma. His best year as a professional came during the 1986-87 season as a member of the SuperSonics, appearing in 75 games and averaging 11.6 ppg, 9.4 rpg and 2.4 bpg. After just 2 seasons with the Sonics, he was traded straight up to the Warriors for their first round pick. Lister would go on to play another 4 years with Golden State, though playing sparingly in due to injuries. He was waived by the Warriors in March 1993 and went on to sign with Milwaukee. After one more season with the Bucks, the then 37-year old Lister went to the Boston Celtics, as part of the Todd Day for Sherman Douglas trade. He spent two seasons in Boston on a $800,000 total salary averaging 1.9 ppg. Lister finished his career with 7 games for the Portland Trail Blazers.
In his NBA career, Lister played in 953 games (incidentally, the second most games ever for a player with jersey #53, behind Artis Gilmore) and scored a total of 6,298 points. He wore jersey #53 his entire career, and was best known as a solid rebounder and shot blocker.
In 2000, Lister became head coach of at Mesa Community College. From a 9-21 season before his arrival, Lister had five consecutive seasons of 20 or more wins. In the seven years Lister served as coach, 30 players went on to play for NCAA Division I schools. While coaching at Mesa, Lister spent six summers at Pete Newell's Big Man's Camp. The Atlanta Hawks were impressed with Lister’s work at the Newell's camps, thus paving the way for Billy Knight's recruitment of Lister as assistant coach to Mike Woodson in 2007.
Lister lives in the Philippines with his Fil-Am wife Nova and their daughter Avery, working as skills coach of the Meralco Bolts. He has five children in the US, namely Alton, Jr., Alexa, JRoss, and Amari.
Since retiring, in his spare time Lister has coached basketball to aspiring players in San Diego, CA.
Lister's deceased brother James, a 6'9", 225-pound center from Sam Houston State, was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the third round of the 1973 NBA draft, but he never played in the NBA. He played as an import in the Philippines (in 1981 for the PBA's CDCP Road Builders in 7 games) and in Belgium for 13 years.
- Dragons made unexpected appearance 50 years ago, by Harold Bechard, posted March 20, 2007
- 1982-83 NBA Awards Voting
- NBA bio of Lister (1994-1998) at the Wayback Machine (archived February 10, 2001)
- Career statistics and player information from Basketball-Reference.com
- Stats at Basketballreference.com
- Alton Lister Coachfile
- Whatever happened to Alton Lister