On this day 45 years ago, Nate Thurmond posted the first-ever quadruple-double in NBA history.
The big man put up 22 points, 14 rebounds, 13 assists and 12 blocks in a 120-115 overtime victory for his Chicago Bulls over the Atlanta Hawks. It was the 33-year-old’s first game as a Bull and the opening challenge of the 1974-75 season for the team.
Thurmond played every minute but three in the game and shot 8-of-12 from the field. It was his return to the middle of the country after spending the first 11 seasons of his career with the San Francisco/Golden State Warriors, joining the Bulls in the offseason. The Akron, Ohio-native said it meant that much more to do it in the Midwest.
“I was born in the Midwest, but I haven’t lived here for 11 years,” Thurmond said. “I was amazed at the people who came up to me on the street, shook my hand and wished me well. You really feel like playing ball for fans like that.”
His former Warriors teammate, Clyde Lee, attributed Thurmond’s performance to the supportive crowd.
“I never saw Nate play better, and I think I know why,” he explained. “The fans got behind him right from the start, and it gave him a lift. They never appreciated what a great center he was for all those years in San Francisco. When he got that ovation before the game started, you could see it pick him up – and he sure picked up the Bulls.”
Thurmond remains one of four players to ever accomplish the feat in an NBA game. It would take another 12 years until Alvin Robertson would record the next quadruple-double, helping the San Antonio Spurs defeat the Phoenix Suns in a February regular season matchup. Hakeem Olajuwon notched the next two, both in March 1990, and David Robinson had the last quadruple-double to date on Feb. 17, 1994.
Nate the Great would finish his career after the 1976-77 campaign with seven All-Star Games and five All-Defensive Team appearances, which would help him find a spot in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 1985.