Nate Thurmond, a member of the BGSU Athletics and Naismith Memorial Basketball Halls of Fame, has passed away following a short battle with leukemia. He was 74.
If you're looking to make an argument for the best basketball player in MAC history, both while playing in the MAC and in the NBA, Thurmond makes an excellent candidate.
In his three seasons with the Bowling Green Falcons, Thurmond was named first-team All-MAC three times, led his team to back-to-back MAC championships and NCAA Tournament appearances, and set numerous school records for rebounding.
Thurmond played at Bowling Green for three seasons from 1960-63 for legendary Falcons' coach Harold Anderson. He made an instant impact in his first season by leading BGSU in scoring with 17.8 points per game and added a school-record 18.7 rebounds per game.
The Falcons compiled a 21-4 record and captured the MAC championship with an 11-1 mark in 1961-62, Thurmond's second season. He averaged 15.7 points per game and grabbed 394 rebounds, fourth-most for a season in school history. The Falcons were ranked in the top ten nationally and as high as seventh during the final 16 weeks of the season.
Bowling Green captured the MAC crown again in 1962-63 with a 19-8 record. Arguably the biggest win in school history, the Falcons defeated #2 Loyola (Ill.) on Feb. 16, 1963. Those Ramblers, who lost to BGSU 92-75, went on to win the national championship. The Falcons also won their opening game of the NCAA Tournament, 77-72 over Notre Dame.
During that final season, Thurmond poured in 536 points (19.9 per game) in that final season. He finished his career with 1,356 points and an average of 17.8. He ranks eighth on the BGSU career list for scoring average. He also pulled down a school-record 452 rebounds. That total included a school-record 31 in his final collegiate game against Mississippi State.
Thurmond ended his three years at BGSU with 1,295 career rebounds (1,295) and a career rebounding average of 17.0, both of which are BGSU records. In fact, he owns three of the four most prolific rebounding seasons in school history and is second on the MAC's all-time rebounding list.
Thurmond was named a consensus All-American following his final collegiate season and was placed on the first-team All-American list by the Sporting News.
The San Francisco Warriors (now Golden State) selected Thurmond third overall in the 1963 NBA Draft. His professional career spanned 14 seasons, 11 of which came with the Warriors. He also spent parts of three seasons with the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers. Both the Golden State Warriors and Cavaliers have retired Thurmond's #42 jersey.
During his 14 seasons, Thurmond's teams reached the NBA playoffs 11 times, and he played in the 1964 and 1967 NBA Finals. In his only full season with the Bulls (1974-75), he faced off against his former Warriors teammates but fell 4-3 in the Western Conference finals.
That 1974-75 season also marked one of Thurmond's greatest professional feats. On Oct. 18, 1974, he played his first game with the Bulls. It ended as an overtime victory, but to achieve it, Thurmond became the first player to ever record an official quadruple-double. He compiled 22 points, 14 rebounds, 13 assists and 12 blocks in 45 minutes of action.
In addition, Thurmond joins legends Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell and Jerry Lucas as one of three players to do three amazing things: earn 40 rebounds in one game, average 15 rebounds per game for his career, and average 20 rebounds per game for a season.
Thurmond was a seven-time All-Star and played in 964 career games. He finished his career with 14,437 points to go with his 14,464 rebounds, an average of 15.0 per game in both areas.
His achievements have been honored with inductions into the BGSU Athletics Hall of Fame (1975) and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (1985). When the NBA celebrated it's 50th anniversary season in 1996, Thurmond was named one of the 50 greatest players in league history.
We at Hustle Belt would like to extend our condolences to Thurmond's family, friends, NBA colleagues, and the BGSU family.