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Nate Thurmond

Nate Thurmond (born 1940) - Born in Akron, Ohio, Thurmond is rated by many one of the very finest defensive centers ever to play pro basketball, feared and praised by legends including Bob Pettit, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Wilt Chamberlain. Played in high school with another future NBA star, Gus Johnson, at Akron Central. Their powerful team would go undefeated before losing to Middletown and star Jerry Lucas in the Ohio state high school playoffs. Passing on a scholarship offer to Ohio State University to avoid becoming Lucas's backup there, the 6'10" Thurmond chose Bowling Green State University. He starred well enough there to be drafted by the Philadephia Warriors in 1963 where the aggressive rebounder-defender played forward opposite superstar center Wilt Chamberlain or was his backup. The Warriors moved to San Francisco in 1965. When Wilt was traded back to Philadelphia's new 76ers, Thurmond became the All-Star starting center even Wilt said he could be. Star players like Rick Barry and Jerry Lucas came and went, but the Warriors would not win a championship with the talented Thurmond at center. He was traded to Chicago and then to Cleveland in the mid-1970's. In Cleveland, the now 35-year-old Thurmond came off the bench for the injured Jim Chones to lead Cleveland to the East Conference Finals before the Cavaliers lost to the star-studded Boston Celtics in 1975. After retirement, Nate returned to San Francisco and opened a well-known restaurant after a brief attempt at broadcasting. He was named on of the 50 Greatest Players by the NBA in 1998, and remains one of the greatest rebounders and shot blockers in basketball history.