MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WDTV/Gray News) - West Virginia University Director of Athletics Shane Lyons announced that WVU will retire the playing number of all-time basketball great Rod Thorn.
In his career of more than 50 years,Thorn excelled as a player and as a front office executive, where he became on of game's most influential figures, according to a news release from WVU Athletics.
Thorn will have his No. 44 retired in addition to Jerry West, who's No. 44 retired in 2005, the news release says. Thorn was the last WVU men's basketball player to wear No. 44 during his WVU career from 1961-63.
The WVU Athletics Council unanimously voted to retire Thorn's number, according to the news release. The ceremony will take place during halftime of WVU's home game with Oklahoma on Saturday, Feb. 29.
Thorn will become the third Mountaineer basketball player to have his number retired.
"Two of our state's most famous natives have worn No. 44 for our basketball program. Like Jerry West, Rod Thorn has been a source of pride for West Virginians everywhere," Lyons said. "Not only was he an outstanding basketball player, but his list of career achievements has taken him to the pinnacle of the sport.
"Starting with his induction into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame, then being an inaugural member of the Mountaineer Legends Society to now having his number retired, Rod has achieved the three highest honors a WVU athlete can receive. He is a true gentleman, and very deserving of this great accomplishment. It will be my honor to be the sitting athletic director when his number 44 is retired."
Thorn, a West Virginia native, was one of the nation's premier backcourt players as a West Virginia University senior in 1963, according to WVU Athletics. He led the Mountaineers in scoring, rebounding, shooting percentage and assists for two seasons, and established six records during his playing days. He scored 1,785 points for his career.
He played for eight years in the NBA. After he retired from basketball, he coached in Seattle, New York, St. Louis, Chicago and New Jersey before he moved to front office positions.
Thorn was with the Bulls for seven years and was responsible for selecting Michael Jordan with the third overall pick in the 1984 NBA draft.
Thorn joined the NBA's league office in Manhattan in 1986, according to the news release. He served as the executive vice president of basketball operations working under David Stern.
In 2000, Thorn became president of the New Jersey Nets, help them to four Atlantic Division titles and their only two Eastern Conference championship. He was named NBA executive of the year two years later.
Thorn served as president of the Philadelphia 76ers until 2013, according to WVU Athletics. He returned to the NBA league office to oversee operations.
He became a special consultant for the Milwaukee Bucks in 2015.
He was inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 1992 and named an inaugural member of WVU's Mountaineer Legends Society in 2017, according to WVU Athletics. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as an executive and a contributor in 2018.
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