R.I.P. Nate Thurmond
Nate Thurmond, a defensive beast as a center and power forward in the NBA in the 1960s and ’70s, died of leukemia on July 16th, 2016 at age 74.
Thurmond was a native of Akron, Ohio, the same town that would produce LeBron James. He played college basketball at Bowling Green State, averaging 17.8 points and 17 rebounds per game over his college career. Thurmond was drafted by the then San Francisco Warriors in the first round of the 1963 NBA draft . The 6′ 11′ Thurmond was a power forward with the Warriors for the first two years of his career, and was the backup center to Wilt Chamberlain. After Chamberlain was traded in 1965, Thurmond was moved to center, a position he played for the rest of his career.
Thurmond was known for his defense. He had 42 rebounds in a 1965 game against the Detroit Pistons. He averaged 15 rebounds per game for his career, and had a career high season average of 22 per game in the 1967-68 season. By comparison, Andre Drummond, who was the 2015-16 season leader in rebounds per game, averaged 14.8. He also averaged 15 points per game, with a career high of 21.9 points per game in the ’69-’70 season.
Thurmond was traded to the Chicago Bulls prior to the 1974-75 season. In that season’s first game, Thurmond became the 1st player to get a quadruple double, scoring 22 points, grabbing 14 rebounds, to go along with 13 assists and 12 blocked shots. Only three other players have accomplished the feat since. Thurmond was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers 13 games into the ’75-’76 season, and retired after the ’76-77 season. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1985.