Nate Thurmond — a Hall of Famer, one of the NBA’s 50 greatest players ever list, and a member of the Warriors organization for more than four decades on and off the court — has passed away.
The Warriors made the announcement Saturday. Thurmond had been battling leukemia according to the team.
“Nate was one of the greatest centers to ever play the game and I was privileged to call him a teammate and dear friend,”Rick Barry, former Warriors player and Hall of Famer said in a statement. “He battled his illness until the very end, like a true Warrior. His legacy is one of passion, fierce competitiveness, a love of basketball and selfless devotion to others. My heartfelt prayers go out to his family, friends and fans.”
“This is an extremely difficult day for me,” said Jerry West, Hall of Famer and Warriors Executive Board Member, via statement. “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. Nate Thurmond was, without a doubt, one of the fiercest competitors that I played against during my entire career. He played with unbelievable intensity and was simply a man among boys on most nights, especially on the defensive end. On the other hand, off the court, Nate was about as caring and loving as they come, extremely kind and gentle. 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.”
Thurmond had epic battles with Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabar and other greats from a golden age of big men in the NBA. Thurmond averaged 15 points and 15 rebounds a game over the course of his career — he peaked at 20.5 points and 22 rebounds a game during the 1967-68 campaign — that included seven All-Star games, five-times All-Defensive Teams, and even becoming one of five players ever to post a quadruple-double in a game.
“We’ve lost one of the most iconic figures in the history of not only our organization, but the NBA in general, with the passing of Nate Thurmond,”Joe Lacob, Warriors owner, said in a statement released by the team. “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. On behalf of the entire Warriors organization, our thoughts and prayers go out to his entire family, including his wife, Marci. We’ll miss his presence in his customary seats at our games next season, but his legacy will live forever.”