By Alex Dobuzinskis
(Reuters) – Nate Thurmond, a Basketball Hall of Fame inductee considered one of the greatest centers ever to play in the NBA, died on Saturday at age 74, his former team the Golden State Warriors said in a statement.
Thurmond, known for his bruising on-court style, died in San Francisco after a short battle with leukemia, the team said.
The seven-time National Basketball Association all-star excelled at all aspects of the game during a career that spanned from 1963 to 1977.
In 1974, Thurmond in one game became the first NBA player to record a quadruple-double by tallying double-digits in four statistical categories, with 22 points, 14 rebounds, 13 assists and 12 blocks.
“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,” Al Attles, a former player, coach and general manager with the Golden State Warriors, said in a statement.
A native of Ohio, Thurmond was drafted by the Warriors, who were then based in San Francisco but later moved to Oakland. He spent his rookie season as an apprentice of sorts to Wilt Chamberlain, a center considered one of the greatest NBA players of all time.
Thurmond soon began playing the forward position, with Chamberlain at center, before the Warriors traded Chamberlain in 1965 and Thurmond replaced him at center.
“I really liked Wilt as a person,” Thurmond told NBA.com in an interview after his retirement.
“We kept in touch after he left San Francisco, but it was a happy day for me when I heard he was traded because I didn’t want to play forward for the rest of my life and neither did I want to play behind Wilt for the rest of my life,” he said.
Thurmond spent his first 11 seasons with the Warriors. During that time, they lost the NBA championship series twice, once in 1964 to the Boston Celtics and again in 1967 to the Philadelphia 76ers when Thurmond matched up against Chamberlain.
Thurmond played with the Chicago Bulls from 1974 to 1975 when he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, ending his career with that team in 1977. He averaged 15 points and 15 rebounds a game during his career and was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 1985.
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Matthew Lewis)