Athlete Rodney King ‘‘Rod’’ Thorn, born May 23, 1941 in Princeton, was a West Virginia University basketball All-American (1962–63). Thorn was Princeton High School’s best basketball and baseball player and was heavily recruited by college teams. The straight-A student was leaning toward Duke University when the West Virginia legislature passed an unprecedented resolution declaring him a state natural resource.
At WVU, Thorn was given uniform number 44, the same as the legendary Jerry West. Though he played in the National Basketball Association, he might have been bound, too, for the major leagues to play baseball, his favorite sport. An injury, however, prevented him from playing baseball.
Thorn had an extended and distinguished career in the National Basketball Association as a player and as a team coach, general manager and president. In 1963, he was the second pick in the first round of the NBA draft and went to the Baltimore Bullets. He played with the Bullets, and later with the Detroit Pistons, St. Louis Hawks, and Seattle Supersonics. He was an assistant coach with the Sonics and the New Jersey Nets, and was head coach of the St. Louis Spirits of the old American Basketball Association before going to the Chicago Bulls as general manager. He also coached the Bulls for 30 games. As general manager, he recruited and signed Michael Jordan. He spent 10 years as the president of the New Jersey Nets, and then in 2010, he became president of the Philadelpha 76ers.
Thorn was inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 1992.
This Article was written by Norman Julian
Last Revised on November 05, 2010
Julian, Norman. Legends: Profiles in West Virginia University Basketball. Morgantown: Trillium Pub., 1998.
West Virginia University Basketball Media Guide. 1998-1999.