OAKLAND -– Nate Thurmond, voted one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA history and a member of the Warriors organization for more than four decades as both a player and a Community Relations Ambassador, passed away this morning in San Francisco at the age of 74 after a short battle with leukemia.
Considered one of the best centers to ever play the game of basketball, Thurmond was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1985. A seven-time NBA All-Star, he earned NBA All-Defensive First or Second Team accolades five times. His Warriors jersey #42 was retired on March 8, 1978, one of six players to have his number retired by the Warriors along with Alvin Attles (#16), Rick Barry (#24), Wilt Chamberlain (#13), Tom Meschery (#14) and Chris Mullin (#17).
Over a 14 year NBA career – the first 11 of which were played with the San Francisco and Golden State Warriors – Thurmond held averages of 15.0 points and 15.0 rebounds per game, including averaging 20.5 points and 22.0 rebounds during the 1967-68 campaign to join Wilt Chamberlain as the only Warriors to post at least 20 points and 20 boards in a single season. “Big Nate,” who was selected third overall by the San Francisco Warriors in the 1963 NBA Draft following his collegiate career at Bowling Green, remains the franchise’s all-time leader in rebounds (12,771) and minutes played (30,735). Thurmond became the first player to record an official quadruple-double as a member of the Chicago Bulls, tallying 22 points, 14 rebounds, 13 assists and 12 blocks against the Atlanta Hawks on October 18, 1974 (see attached for the box score provided by the Elias Sports Bureau). Following his illustrious playing career, Thurmond spent more than 30 years as a valued asset to the Warriors’ community relations department.
**Warriors Statements on the Passing of Hall of Famer Nate Thurmond**
Joe Lacob, Warriors Owner: “We’ve lost one of the most iconic figures in the history of not only our organization, but the NBA in general, with the passing of Nate Thurmond. Nate represented this franchise with class, dignity and humility as both a player and community relations ambassador for over 40 years. Without a doubt, he is one of the most beloved figures to ever wear a Warriors uniform and both a Hall of Fame player and Hall of Fame person, hence his #42 jersey hanging from the rafters at Oracle Arena. On behalf of the entire Warriors organization, our thoughts and prayers go out to his entire family, including his wife, Marci. We’ll miss his presence in his customary seats at our games next season, but his legacy will live forever.”
Rick Barry, former Warriors player and Hall of Famer: “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.”
Al Attles, former Warriors player, coach, General Manager and current Community Relations Ambassador: “Although I had prepared for this news for the past several days, I was heartbroken and devastated when I was informed of Nate’s death earlier today. In typical Nate fashion, he did not let many people know about his illness and how serious it was and, unfortunately, it proved to be one of the few things in life tougher than him. Looking back, he was as ferocious as any player in the history of the game on the court, but one of the kindest and nicest souls in his everyday life. He was just a terrific human being who I loved and respected more than words can describe and, fortunately, I was blessed to spend a great deal of time with as a teammate, coach and, most importantly, a friend for a good portion of our adult lives. For that, I am extremely thankful.”
Jerry West, Hall of Famer and Warriors Executive Board Member: “This is an extremely difficult day for me. We have lost an incredible person and someone whom I admired as much as any player I ever went to battle against on any level. Nate Thurmond was, without a doubt, one of the fiercest competitors that I played against during my entire career. He played with unbelievable intensity and was simply a man among boys on most nights, especially on the defensive end. On the other hand, off the court, Nate was about as caring and loving as they come, extremely kind and gentle. He was the total package as an athlete and as a man and someone we should all aspire to emulate. I’ll miss him dearly.”
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