The NBA lost another great Saturday as legendary Golden State Warriors big man and Hall of Famer Nate Thurmond died at the age of 74. According to the Warriors, Thurmond died after a "short battle" with leukemia.
Thurmond played 14 years in the NBA, 11 with Golden State, and averaged a double double of 15 points and 15 rebounds for his career. Voted as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA history, Thurmond, a seven-time All-Star who was voted to the All-Defensive first or second team five times, is considered to be one of the better centers to ever play. In 1985, Thurmond was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
In retirement, Thurmond worked in the Warriors organization as a "valued asset" to Golden State's community relations department. Several members of the Warriors organization spoke about Thurmond in a team release:
Rick Barry, former Warriors player and Hall of Famer: "Nate was one of the greatest centers to ever play the game and I was privileged to call him a teammate and dear friend. 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."
Al Attles, former Warriors player, coach, General Manager and current Community Relations Ambassador: "Although I had prepared for this news for the past several days, I was heartbroken and devastated when I was informed of Nate's death earlier today. In typical Nate fashion, he did not let many people know about his illness and how serious it was and, unfortunately, it proved to be one of the few things in life tougher than him. Looking back, he was as ferocious as any player in the history of the game on the court, but one of the kindest and nicest souls in his everyday life. He was just a terrific human being who I loved and respected more than words can describe and, fortunately, I was blessed to spend a great deal of time with as a teammate, coach and, most importantly, a friend for a good portion of our adult lives. For that, I am extremely thankful."
Jerry West, Hall of Famer and Warriors Executive Board Member: "This is an extremely difficult day for me. 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."