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David Thompson    

While this fact has never been confirmed, David Thompson's athletic abilities were certainly anything but normal.

While this fact has never been confirmed, David Thompson's athletic abilities were certainly anything but normal. With lightening quick moves, an explosive 44-inch vertical leap, and a precise shooting touch, Thompson often left opposing defenders in awe and in his dust. His athletic ability helped lead many to call him the greatest player ever in the Atlantic Coast Conference and one of the truly outstanding players in NCAA history.

At NC State, "The Skywalker" was a three-time First-Team All-America, three time All-ACC selection, and a two-time Associated Press National Player of the Year. He led the Wolfpack to a 79-7 three-year record, a mark that included a 30-1 record and a National Championship in 1974. For his efforts in NC State's run to the championship, Thompson was voted MVP of the NCAA Tournament. In 1975, Thompson earned the Naismith, Rupp, AP, UPI, Eastman Kodak and The Sporting News Player of the Year honors. His flair and ability to put the ball in the hoop guided NC State to two consecutive ACC titles (1973 and 1974) with perfect 14-0 records. Thompson won ACC Athlete of the Year honors in 1973 and 1975. He was ACC Basketball Player of the Year in all three varsity seasons and was a unanimous choice to each of the All-ACC teams during his career. Named to the NCAA All-Decade Team of the 1970s, Thompson was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 1982. NC State paid him the ultimate honor when they retired his #44 jersey. Upon his enshrinement into the Basketball Hall of Fame, Thompson's #44 was the only number retired by NC State.

Thompson brought his explosive game to the professional level in 1975 when he was drafted by both the NBA's Atlanta Hawks and the ABA's Virginia Squires. Thompson opted for the ABA with the Denver Nuggets, who had acquired his rights in a trade with the Virginia Squires. In the first of nine professional seasons (Denver Nuggets 1975-82, Seattle Supersonics 1982-84), Thompson averaged 26.0 points per game, was chosen MVP in the ABA All-Star Game and the ABA's Rookie of the Year. Thompson enjoyed similar success in the NBA. He was a four-time NBA All-Star and won the MVP Award in the 1979 All-Star Game. A two-time First Team All-NBA selection in 1977 and 1978, Thompson averaged 22.1 ppg in the regular season and 22.9 ppg in the playoffs during his NBA career. His prolific scoring career will be remembered most for the 73-point outburst he had in the final game of the 1978 season. In what was the closest race for the NBA scoring title, Thompson's outburst (third highest in NBA history) left him just .06 points behind George Gervin. The Denver Nuggets honored Thompson for his career achievements when they retired his number 33 jersey on Nov. 12, 1992.

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