Alex English is the all-time leading scorer for the Denver Nuggets, retiring as the No. 7 scorer in NBA history with 25,613 points, and he is the only player in league history to score 2,000 points in eight consecutive seasons.
English came out of South Carolina and began his pro career with the Milwaukee Bucks, then moved to the Indiana Pacers before being traded to Denver, along with a first-round draft pick, for George McGinnis in February 1980.
Pro basketball has rarely witnessed a more consistent scorer than English. In fact, he was the highest scoring player in the decade of the 1980s. Not one player—including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson or Michael Jordan—scored more points than English in that decade.
He owed it all to a silky-smooth jump shot and durability that belied his angular body. In his 15-year NBA career, he suited up for all but 14 games of the 1,230 for which he was eligible. English played 11 seasons in Denver (1979-90), averaging 25.9 points and leading the team in scoring seven of those seasons. He still leads the team in almost every offensive category, including points (21,645), field goals made (8,953), assists (3,679), games played (837) and minutes played (29,893). He was named to eight consecutive All-Star games. His best season was 1985-86, when he averaged 29.8 points. He averaged 30.2 points in 14 playoff games in 1985, leading the Nuggets to the Western Conference finals.
English, whose trademark shot was a soft, running one-hander in the lane, had a soft spot in his heart for numerous causes, including world hunger, nuclear proliferation, illiteracy and racial inequality. When he retired from competitive play, he took a job with the NBA Players Association, overseeing such programs as alcohol and substance abuse, HIV-AIDS education and career planning. He won the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship award for outstanding community service in 1987-88.
“Alex was the epitome of a player that got the total maximum of his abilities in every way,” former Nuggets coach Doug Moe said. “Every night he really did give everything.”
I remember how smooth he was and how he could score against almost any kind of defense,” said Dan Issel, who was a teammate of English’s for four seasons. “It looked like Alex was never out of low gear, and yet you couldn’t stop him. Offensively, he was as consistent as any player I’ve ever seen.”
Pro basketball has rarely witnessed a more consistent scorer than English.