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Dan Issel: Wikis


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Dan Issel
Position(s) Center/power forward
Jersey #(s) 44, 25
Listed height 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)
Listed weight 240 lb (110 kg)
Born October 25, 1948 (1948-10-25) (age 61)
Batavia, Illinois, USA
Career information
Year(s) 1970–1985
NBA Draft 1970 / Round: 8 / Pick: 122
Professional team(s)
Career stats (NBA and/or ABA)
Points     27,482 (22.6 ppg)
Rebounds     11,133 (9.1 rpg)
Assists     2,907 (2.4 apg)
Stats @
Career highlights and awards
  • 1970–71 ABA Rookie of the Year
  • 1970–71 ABA All-Rookie First Team
  • 1970–71 ABA All-ABA Second Team
  • 1971–72 ABA All-ABA First Team
  • 1972–73 ABA All-ABA Second Team
  • 1973–74 ABA All-ABA Second Team
  • 1975–76 ABA All-ABA Second Team
  • 1972 ABA All-Star Game MVP
  • J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award (1985)
Basketball Hall of Fame as player

Daniel (Dan) Paul Issel (born October 25, 1948 in Batavia, Illinois) is a retired American Hall of Fame professional basketball player and coach.


Collegiate playing career

A jersey honoring Issel hangs in Rupp Arena

Issel played college basketball at the University of Kentucky under legendary coach Adolph Rupp. Issel was at UK 1966-1970 and scored 2,138 points (an average of 25.7 per game) while being named an All American for two of the three seasons he was eligible for the award.

On February 7, 1970, Issel scored 53 points in a 120-85 victory over Mississippi, breaking Cliff Hagan's single-game Wildcat record of 51. Issel's mark held for almost four decades, finally falling to Jodie Meeks' 54 in a win against University of Tennessee on January 13, 2009.[1]

Professional playing career

Upon Issel's graduation in 1970 he was drafted by the Detroit Pistons of the NBA and the Kentucky Colonels of the American Basketball Association (ABA). Issel signed to play basketball for the Colonels and the ABA.

In his first season, Issel led the ABA in scoring with an average of 29.9 points per game, and pulled down 13.2 rebounds per game. He was named the ABA Rookie of the year in 1971, and was selected to the All-ABA Second Team. The following season, Issel raised his scoring average to 30.6 points per game, made the All-ABA First Team, and was named MVP of the 1972 ABA All-Star Game.

In 1975, Issel won the 1975 ABA championship with the Colonels, who also featured sharp-shooting guard (and fellow ex-Kentucky Wildcat) Louie Dampier, as well as 7'2" center Artis Gilmore. After the Colonels' championship season Issel was sold by the Colonels' owners to the short-lived Baltimore Claws franchise and ended up with the Denver Nuggets for the following season.

Issel remained with the Nuggets following the ABA-NBA merger in June 1976, and he represented Denver in the 1977 NBA All-Star Game. He continued playing through the 1984-1985 season, and received the NBA's J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award in 1985 for his outstanding service to the community.

Issel accumulated over 27,000 points in his combined ABA and NBA career. At the time of his retirement the only professional basketball players to have scored more points than Issel were Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Julius Erving. He currently ranks #8 on the all time combined ABA/NBA scoring list.

Coaching career

After his playing career Issel retired to a horse farm in Woodford County, Kentucky. He returned to the Nuggets as head coach in 1992 and led them to the playoffs in 1994. The Nuggets had only won 44 games in the previous two years, but Issel led them to their first winning record in four years. That year, the Nuggets pulled off the biggest upset to date in National Basketball Association (NBA) playoff history, knocking off the Seattle SuperSonics in five games. He resigned 34 games into the 1994-95 season after facing criticism for his coaching style, saying he didn't like the person he'd become. He returned in 1998 as president and general manager, naming himself head coach again in December 1999, yielding his general manager's title to Kiki Vandeweghe. His second tenure was far less successful; the Nuggets did not post a winning season during this time.

His tenure ended on a rather sour note in December 2001. On December 10, after a close loss to the Charlotte Hornets, Issel heard a fan taunting him as he walked off the court at the Pepsi Center. Issel screamed, "Go drink another beer, you Mexican piece of shit"[2] The incident was captured on Denver's NBC affiliate, KUSA-TV. A day later, Issel was suspended four games by the team. Several members of Denver's Hispanic community thought the suspension was insufficient punishment, and called for him to be fired. Hours before he was due to return, Issel took a leave of absence to decide whether he wanted to return. He finally decided to resign on December 26, though some reports circulated that he'd been fired.

See also


External links

Preceded by
Mike D'Antoni
Denver Nuggets Head Coach
Succeeded by
Mike Evans
Preceded by
Paul Westhead
Denver Nuggets head coach
Succeeded by
Gene Littles
Preceded by
Spencer Haywood
American Basketball Association Rookie of the Year
(with Charlie Scott)

Succeeded by
Artis Gilmore
Preceded by
Mel Daniels
American Basketball Association All Star Game Most Valuable Player
Succeeded by
Warren Jabali

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