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Nate Thurmond

Nate Thurmond
Thurmond during his tenure with the Cavaliers
Personal information
Born (1941-07-25) July 25, 1941 (age 78)
Akron, Ohio
Nationality American
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Career information
High school Central (Akron, Ohio)
College Bowling Green (1960–1963)
NBA draft 1963 / Round: 1 / Pick: 3rd overall
Selected by the San Francisco Warriors
Pro career 1963–1977
Position Power forward / Center
Number 42
Career history
19631974 San Francisco / Golden State Warriors
19741976 Chicago Bulls
19761977 Cleveland Cavaliers
Career highlights and awards
Career statistics
Points 14,437 (15.0 ppg)
Rebounds 14,464 (15.0 rpg)
Assists 2,575 (2.7 apg)
Stats at
Basketball Hall of Fame as player

Nathaniel "Nate" Thurmond (born July 25, 1941) is a retired American basketball player. Dominant at both center and power forward, he was a seven-time All-Star and the first player in NBA history to record an official quadruple-double.

Thurmond remains one of the greatest rebounders and shot blockers ever, named both a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History.

Known to fans as "Nate the Great",[1] Thurmond has had his #42 jersey retired by both the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers franchises.[2]


He played in high school with another future NBA star, Gus Johnson, at Akron Central. Their powerful team went undefeated before losing to Middletown, led by Jerry Lucas, in the Ohio state high school playoffs. Passing on a scholarship offer to Ohio State, to avoid becoming Lucas's backup there, the 6'11" Thurmond chose Bowling Green. He was named a first-team All-American by The Sporting News in 1963, and was drafted by the San Francisco Warriors later that year.

With the Warriors, Thurmond was an aggressive rebounder-defender who played at the forward position opposite superstar Wilt Chamberlain or was his backup at center. Despite playing on the same team as the dominant Chamberlain, Thurmond made an impact and was named to the NBA All-Rookie Team in 1964.

When Chamberlain was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers, Thurmond became the All-Star starting center Chamberlain said he could be. Among his many accomplishments, Thurmond still holds the regular season record for rebounds in a quarter with 18. He averaged 21.3 and 22.0 rebounds per game in the 1966-67 and 1967-68 seasons — season averages exceeded by only Bill Russell and Chamberlain in NBA history. Thurmond placed second to Chamberlain in the MVP balloting in the 1966-67 season, and averaged over 20 points per game each season from 1967-68 through 1971-72, and played in seven NBA All-Star Games while with the Warriors. However, while star players like Rick Barry and Jerry Lucas came and went, the Warriors were unable to win a championship with Thurmond at center, often failing to get past the star studded Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Division playoffs. Thurmond was an excellent passing center and was well known as the best screen setter in the league for many years.

File:Nate Thurmond – Cavaliers (2).jpeg
Nate Thurmond secures a rebound for the Cleveland Cavaliers in a 1976 game.

He was traded to the Chicago Bulls for Clifford Ray prior to the 1974-75 season. On October 18, 1974 against the Atlanta Hawks, in his debut as a Bull, he recorded 22 points, 14 rebounds, 13 assists and 12 blocked shots, becoming the first player in NBA history to officially record a quadruple-double (blocked shots were not counted before 1973–74).[3] He was then traded to Cleveland Cavaliers 13 games into the following season. In Cleveland, the now 35-year-old Thurmond came off the bench for the injured Jim Chones to lead Cleveland to the NBA Eastern Conference Finals before the Cavaliers lost to the star-studded Boston Celtics in 1976.

After retirement, Thurmond returned to San Francisco and opened a restaurant, Big Nate's BBQ, after a brief attempt at broadcasting. He sold the restaurant after 20 years, and currently lives in San Francisco with his wife, Marci.[4] He has been given the title "Warriors Legend & Ambassador" by the Warriors organization.[4]

NBA statistics

Career highs

Regular season

Stat High Opponent Date
Points 43 at Detroit Pistons February 24, 1971
Points 42 at Detroit Pistons December 30, 1971
Field goal percentage
Field goals made 18 at Detroit Pistons February 24, 1971
Field goal attempts 34
Free throws made, none missed 13—13 vs. San Diego Rockets February 19, 1971
Free throws made, one missed 15—16 at Milwaukee Bucks February 12, 1972
Free throws made 16 at Seattle SuperSonics December 31, 1967
Free throw attempts 22 at Philadelphia 76ers January 5, 1971
Free throw attempts 22 vs. Boston Celtics February 17, 1973
Rebounds 42 vs. Detroit Pistons November 9, 1965
Rebounds 37 vs. Baltimore Bullets October 27, 1964
Rebounds 37 vs. Los Angeles Lakers December 20, 1966
Rebounds, half 24 vs. Los Angeles Lakers December 20, 1966
Rebounds, quarter 18 at Baltimore Bullets February 28, 1965
Assists 13
Blocked shots 12 vs. Atlanta Hawks October 18, 1974
Blocked shots 8 vs. Portland Trail Blazers December 3, 1974
Minutes played 63 (3 OT) vs. Los Angeles Lakers February 2, 1969


Stat High Opponent Date
Points 32 at Milwaukee Bucks March 30, 1972
Field goal percentage
Field goals made 13
Field goal attempts 29
Free throw attempts, none made 0—3 at Los Angeles Lakers April 4, 1969
Free throws made 9 vs. Boston Celtics April 24, 1964
Free throw attempts 11 four times
Rebounds 31 at Philadelphia 76ers April 14, 1967
Assists 9
Blocked shots 6 vs. Boston Celtics May 14, 1976

NBA records

Regular season

First player in NBA history to record a quadruple-double in a game: Chicago Bulls (120) vs. Atlanta Hawks (115), October 18, 1974 (OT)

  • 22 points, 14 rebounds, 13 assists, and 12 blocked shots in 45 minutes
  • The game was the first of the 1974–75 season, as well as Thurmond's debut with the Chicago Bulls.
  • Alvin Robertson, Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson are the only other players to achieve this.

One of five players in NBA history to average at least 15 rebounds per game for his career: 15.0 (14,464/964)

One of five players in NBA history to average at least 20 rebounds per game during a season: 21.3 (1966–67), 22.0 (1967–68)

One of four players in NBA history to record 40 or more rebounds in a game: 42, vs. Detroit Pistons, November 9, 1965

Rebounds, quarter: 18, at Baltimore Bullets, February 28, 1965


Recording 20 or more rebounds in all games of a playoff series: 6 games, vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 1967 NBA Finals

  • Wilt Chamberlain achieved this for the opposing team, Philadelphia 76ers, in the same series.

NBA Finals

Recording 20 or more rebounds in all games of a championship series: 6 games, vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 1967 NBA Finals

See also


  1. ^ "Nate Thurmond Statistics". Retrieved 2008-01-05. 
  2. ^ "All-Time Numerical Roster | THE OFFICIAL SITE OF THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS". Retrieved 2013-03-03. 
  3. ^ "Nate Thurmond Bio". Retrieved 2013-03-03. 
  4. ^ a b Whiting, Sam (March 3, 2013). "Big Nate Thurmond a center of attention". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved March 2, 2013. 

Further reading

  • Heisler, Mark (2003). Giants: The 25 Greatest Centers of All Time. Chicago: Triumph Books. ISBN 1-57243-577-1. 

External links