If you’ve been keeping up with the Hustle Hall of Fame over the last few weeks, you are aware of what’s happening. Fan voting has decided the first of two entrants for each MAC member to craft an inaugural Class of 2017 for the Hustle Hall of Fame. Next up to be inducted for the Bowling Green Falcons is basketball legend Nate Thurmond.
Youthful fans of basketball might not believe it, but centers used to dominate the game. In the 1960s and 1970s, the best and most famous basketball players patrolled the paint, hauled down huge numbers of rebounds and lived for thunderous blocks.
BGSU spent the early years of the ‘60s developing Nate Thurmond, a player who would ultimately stand shoulder-to-shoulder with centers like Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the greatest to ever play the position.
Thurmond led the Falcons to a pair of Mid-American Conference championships and two of the school’s four all-time appearances in the NCAA Tournament. As a junior in 1961-62, the Falcons went 21-4 and earned a national ranking that rose as high as seventh in the country. As a senior, he helped engineer a victory over No. 2 Loyola in the regular season and an NCAA Tournament victory over Notre Dame. Thurmond scored 1,356 points in three seasons and hauled down a BGSU record 1,295 rebounds (17.0 per game).
Following the 1962-63 season, Thurmond was drafted third overall by the Golden State Warriors (San Francisco Warriors at the time). He crafted a 14-year career that included stops with the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers. He was a seven-time All-Star who averaged 15.0 rebounds per game, which ranks fifth all time.
In his debut with the Bulls on Oct. 18, 1974, Thurmond became the first player in NBA history to register a quadruple-double, as he torched the Hawks for 22 points, 14 rebounds, 13 assists and 12 blocks. He also holds the NBA record for rebounds in a quarter (18) and is one of four players to pull down 40 or more boards in a game.
The former BGSU All-American was so beloved by both the Warriors and Cavaliers that each team chose to retire his #42. Sadly, Thurmond passed away on July 16, 2016 following a battle with leukemia, just days before his 75th birthday. However, he lived long enough to witness the first two NBA Finals battles between Golden State and Cleveland, which resulted in championships for both franchises.
“Nate The Great” isn’t just one of the best athletes in Bowling Green history or MAC history — he was one of the true legends of his sport in a bygone era where giants were real, at least on the basketball court. If you’re too young to remember the heyday of centers, hit up some online highlights of that era. You will be amazed.