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Nate Thurmond Print E-mail

"In an era where the average major college basketball center was around 6'8" and 210 pounds, the 6'11", 235-pound Akron native was a monster." That's how one sportswriter summed up Nate Thurmond. While his name doesn't appear in the top ten of the career scoring list, you'd be hard pressed to name one player that had more of an effect on the Bowling Green basketball program.

He attended high school at the same Akron school that produced Falcon head coach Harold Anderson, earning honorable mention All-State honors and third team All-American honors as a senior on the Akron Central Hower basketball team in 1959. Recruited by bigger schools, including Ohio State, Thurmond wanted a chance to play as soon as possible, and that opportunity presented itself at Bowling Green.

BGSU Athletic Department His first year on campus, the men's basketball team was coming off a fine 18-8 season and their first NCAA Tournament appearance. While Thurmond was ineligible as a freshman in the 1959-60 season, the Falcons slumped, finishing with a 10-14 record and a fourth place finish in the MAC. Though his presence wouldn't make a difference in the standings his sophomore year (the Falcons again finished 10-14, but fell to fifth in the MAC race), he would lay the groundwork for the next two years to come. He led the team in scoring that year, averaging 17.8 points per game, and was named team MVP.

The next season saw the arrival of sharpshooter Howard Komives to the team, creating a punishing one-two punch for the Falcons. Early in the year, the team won the All-College Tournament, beating Houston in the championship game, 47-45 on December 29. For the season, Thurmond fell off his scoring pace of a year before just a touch, averaging 15.7 points per game, but he continued to dominate the boards as Komives poured in 21 points a game, leading the Falcons back to the NCAA tournament. However the Falcons' stay didn't last long, losing a tight 56-55 game to Butler in the first round of the tournament. For Thurmond, though, the awards again piled up. He was named to the All-MAC first team for the second straight year, and was named second team All-District by the National Association of Basketball Coaches, and he was saving the best for last.

Expectations were high for the Falcons in 1962-63, with Thurmond returning as a senior, and Komives coming back with a year of experience. On February 16, they would shock the basketball world, knocking off second-ranked Loyola ( Chicago), 92-75. Loyola would go on to win the national championship that year, but that afternoon belonged to the Falcons. Komives scored 32 points and Thurmond added 24 in the win.

Bowling Green finished the 1962-63 season with another MAC title, and a 17-7 record heading to their second consecutive NCAA tournament bid. They would beat Notre Dame in the first round of the Mideast Regional, but lose their next two games to Illinois and Mississippi State by a combined eight points, as Thurmond's career came to a close. He went out with a bang, however, as his 31 rebounds against Mississippi State were just three shy of the single game record in the tournament, a mark that still holds true today as a school record.

BGSU Athletic Department Once again, the accolades rained down on the senior center, as both the Sporting News and UPI named him first team All-America, though the NABC kept him on the second team on the All-District team. He averaged a career best 19.9 points and 16.7 rebounds per game, and was again named the team MVP. His rebounding mark is still a Falcon record, as is his total of 1,295 rebounds in his career. He was elected to the BGSU Hall of Fame in 1975.

Thurmond was taken with the third pick overall by the NBA's San Francisco Warriors in the 1963 NBA Draft, and began an NBA career that would take him through Chicago and Cleveland over 14 seasons. He was named to seven All-Star teams, and set an NBA record with 18 rebounds in a quarter on February 28, 1965, a mark that still stands today. On November 9 of that year, he recorded 42 rebounds in a game against Detroit, and is one of just four players to reach that total, joining Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry Lucas and Bill Russell in that elite group. In 1974, he became the first player in NBA history to achieve a "quadruple-double", with 22 points, 14 rebounds, 13 assists and 12 blocked shots in an overtime win over Atlanta. He finished his NBA career averaging an even 15 points and 15 rebounds a game.

As they did when he was playing, the awards kept coming for Thurmond, even after his retirement in 1977. In 1985, he was inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame, alongside his college coach and fellow Akron Central alumnus, Harold Anderson. Then, in 1996, he was named one of the 50 greatest NBA players of all time, as the league celebrated it's 50th anniversary.

Thurmond has stayed active in the NBA almost 30 years after his retirement, working in the front offices of the Golden State Warriors, while also running his own restaurant, "Big Nate's BBQ" in San Francisco.

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