“Nate the Great” Thurmond, 74


Nate Thurmond, Hall of Fame NBA center, died after a short battle with leukemia on July 16. He was 74.


Born July 25, 1941 in Akron, Ohio, he graduated from Bowling Green College. He was drafted number 3 by the Warriors in 1963. His career stats were 15 points, 15 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.1 blocks per game, and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1985. 


Warriors’ 1972 draft pick Johnny Burks reflected on the life and legacy his teammate.


“Nate, from the very beginning of his career, was the anchor of the Warriors. Big men in those days were the stabilizing force for a team, but Nate went far beyond his physical ability. As a person, he was the kindest human being you ever wanted to meet.


“He was the ambassador for the NBA, the Warriors and for the community of Oakland,” Burks said. “Grace, style and class, Nate made you feel at home despite his greatness. He knew your name and greeted you as if you were his best friend. From beginning to the end, he represented stability and dignity.”


Thurmond was a seven-time All-Star and one of the most dominant centers in the game. He played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls and the Golden State Warriors. His career spanned 14 seasons from 1963 – 1977.


The 6’11” center earned the moniker “Nate the Great,” or “Great Nate” due to his phenomenal career blocking shots and his rebound recovery skills.


During his career with the San Francisco/Golden State Warriors his team made it to the finals twice but lost to the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers. Nate Thurmond was named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history in 1996.


“We lost one of the most iconic figures in the history of not only our organization but the NBA in general,” Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob said. “Without a doubt, he is one of the most beloved figures ever to wear a Warriors’ uniform.”


Hall of Famer Rick Barry said, “Nate was one of the greatest centers to ever play the game, and I was privileged to call him a teammate and dear friend. He battled his illness until the very end, like a true Warrior.


“His legacy is one of passion, fierce competitiveness, a love of basketball and selfless devotion to others. My heartfelt prayers go out to his family, friends and fans.”



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