David Thompson personified excitement. He was a human light switch, a bounding, high-scoring, slam-dunking 6-foot-3 shooting guard for the Denver Nuggets from 1975-1982.
He was a coup, signed by president and general manger Carl Scheer to the old American Basketball Association Nuggets. Thompson had been the top pick in the 1975 NBA draft by the Atlanta Hawks and his signature on the contract gave Denver professional basketball instant credibility. The team joined the NBA one year later.
He was more than a star. A star player with the personification of excitement. David Thompson gave basketball fans their money’s worth of field goals off a high-rise jump shot, great finishes on the fast break and unbelievable slam-dunks.
In seven seasons, he scored 11,992 points, averaging 24.1 points per game. Despite the extra attention garnered from opposing defensemen, plus the length of most of his shots, D.T. had a 50.7 field goal percentage.
He holds the Nuggets’ single-game scoring record of 73 set April 9, 1978 against the Detroit Pistons. His 53 points in one half and 32 in one quarter of that game are also Nugget’s records.
And he was a champion. At North Carolina State, Thompson led the Wolf Pack to the 1974 NCAA National Championship, breaking UCLA’s string at seven. He was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, that to go with two College Player of the Year Awards.
Thompson was the leading scorer for Denver when it won the 1975-76 ABA regular-season championship, averaging 26 points and garnering Rookie of the Year honors, along with MVP of the ABA All-Star game.
He played in the NBA All-Star game in 1977, 1978 and 1979. In 1979, he was also voted the MVP. He was voted to the All-NBA team for the 1977-78 season.
The Nuggets won NBA Midwest Division championships in 1978 and 1979. In 1980, Thompson injured his foot and played only 39 games. He was traded to Seattle on July 17, 1982.
His Number 33 jersey was retired by the Nuggets on November 7, 1992.
He was a human light switch, a bounding, high-scoring, slam-dunking 6-foot-3 shooting guard.