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 owner Joe Lacob said, "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."
Lacob also offered his condolences to Thurmand's wife Marci and the rest of their family.
Meanwhile, Jerry West, a Hall of Famer and Warriors executive board member, reacted to the news of Thurmond's passing by saying, “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.
"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.”