Spotlight On: Nate Thurmond, A Center's Center

2016 July -

Spotlight On: Nate Thurmond, A Center's Center

Topps Fleer RetroCards custom cards that never were

The passing of Nate Thurmond on July 16, 2016 made me think of some of the important NBA players I grew up watching and admiring.  Nate Thurmond was the player that made me realize what the center position was all about.  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was on my home town team but it was watching Thurmond that help me understand what the role of a center was.  Some of today’s NBA centers could learn a thing or two from watching old Nate.

A Hall of Famer and one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History, Nate Thurmond played 14 seasons starting with the San Francisco Warriors in 1963.  He played in the shadow of teammate Wilt Chamberlain but blossomed into an NBA star after Chamberlain was traded to Philadelphia.  Thurmond became a regular All-Star and member of the NBA All-Defensive Team, averaging over 20 rebounds per game from 1967-68 season through the 1971-72 season.  Despite teaming with star Rick Barry, the Warriors were unable to defeat Chamberlain’s mighty 76ers in the 1967 NBA Championship.

A trade to the Bulls in 1974 saw the NBA’s first official quadruple double recorded by Thurmond on October 18, 1974.  However, he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers the following season where he played out his career in his home state.  He helped the Cavs reach the NBA Eastern Conference Finals in 1976 and played a final season in Cleveland before retiring in 1977.  His number 42 is retired by both the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. RetroCards honors one of the true NBA gentlemen with several new Nate Thurmond cards that never were.