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Rod Thorn Named 2018 USA Basketball Steitz Award Winner

  • Date:
    Jul 26, 2018

Rod Thorn, chair of the USA Basketball Men’s Senior National Team Selection Committee from 1992-2000 and a long-time NBA office and team executive, today was named the recipient of the 2018 USA Basketball Edward S. Steitz Award.

The Edward S. Steitz Award recognizes an individual for her or his valuable contributions to international basketball. Thorn will receive his trophy at the USA Basketball Assembly on July 26 in Las Vegas.

The USA Basketball award is named in memory of Edward S. Steitz, a longtime director of athletics at Springfield College who was recognized worldwide as an authority on the rules of basketball. Steitz was an original architect and a past president (1969-74 and 1980-84) of USA Basketball’s predecessors, the Basketball Federation of the USA (BFUSA) and the Amateur Basketball Association of the United States of America (ABAUSA).

“It means a lot,” Thorn said of the award. Thorn currently is semi-retired and still serves as a consultant with the Milwaukee Bucks. “(This is) a very prestigious award from USA Basketball. Ed (Steitz) was probably the biggest rules maker in international history. I knew Ed. I had a lot of respect for him, and I feel very honored to receive this award.”

As chair of the USA Basketball Men’s National Team Selection Committee, Thorn helped to put together the historic Dream Team for the 1992 Olympics, as well as the gold medal winning 1996 and 2000 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Teams and the 1994 FIBA World Cup Team.

He also served as the USA Basketball representative on the FIBA Technical Commission from 1993-2000.

A Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class of 2018 inductee, Thorn contributed to basketball both in the United States and internationally, and he owns experience as an athlete, coach and league and team executive.

“USA Basketball is extremely proud to honor Rod with our highest award,” said Jim Tooley, USA Basketball Chief Executive Officer. “His contributions to the sport, especially to USA Basketball and the international game, have been significant and lasting, and we are grateful for his dedication and hard work.”

Thorn was a successful athlete at Princeton High School in his hometown of Princeton, West Virginia, where he was a two-time All-American and a three-time all-state selection, and he averaged more than 30.0 points per game as a senior.

He went on to West Virginia University, where he earned All-American honors playing basketball, and also played three seasons of baseball. He was the second pick by the Baltimore Bullets in the 1963 NBA Draft.

Named to the 1964 NBA All-Rookie Team, Thorn played eight seasons, and he ended his playing career with the Seattle SuperSonics in 1970-71.

After retiring as a player, Thorn became an assistant coach for the Sonics. In 1973, he was hired as an assistant coach with the ABA New York Nets. He was a member of the Nets coaching staff during the 1974 ABA championship season that was led by Julius Erving. In 1975, Thorn became the head coach of the ABA Spirits of St. Louis, but was let go before the season’s end.

Thorn became the general manager of the NBA Chicago Bulls in 1978, where he spent seven years, including serving as an interim head coach for 30 games during the 1981-82 season and helping to draft Michael Jordan in 1984.

He became the NBA’s executive vice president of basketball operations in 1986, a position in which he served until 2000.

On June 2, 2000, he joined the New Jersey Nets, and after helping to advance the team to its first NBA Finals appearance, Thorn was named the 2002 NBA Executive of the Year. He helped the Nets back to the NBA Finals in 2003.

He also was a member of the NBA Rules Committee, which formed in March of 2001.

He left the Nets in 2010 and was hired as the Philadelphia 76ers president on Aug. 11, 2010, and became president and general manager. In 2012, his title returned to president.

On July 10, 2013, Thorn was announced as the NBA president of basketball operations, a position from which he retired in 2015.

In 2015, he also was awarded the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s John Bunn Award, which annually honors an international or national figure who has contributed greatly to the game of basketball.

Past recipients of the Edward S. Steitz Award include: Val Ackerman (2005-08 USA Basketball president and 1996-2005 WNBA president); Clifford Fagan (1964-1969 BFUSA, 1973-1977 ABAUSA president and Basketball Hall of Fame president); Dave Gavitt (1980 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team head coach and 1989-1992 USA Basketball president); Russ Granik, (1996-2000 USA Basketball president and NBA deputy commissioner and chief operating officer); Tom Jernstedt (USA Basketball vice president for men, board member, vice president and president between 1976-2004); George Killian (1976-80 ABAUSA president, 1990-98 president of FIBA and 1969-2004 NJCAA executive director); Jenaro “Tuto” Marchand (1993-2006 FIBA Americas secretary general and 1980-1985 FIBA vice president); C.M. Newton (FIBA Central Board member, 1984 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team assistant coach and 1993-1996 USA Basketball president); Lea Plarski (1980-84 ABAUSA vice president for women and 1990-96 NJCAA president); Borislav Stankovic (1976-2002 secretary general of FIBA); and William Wall (past USA Basketball and ABAUSA executive director from 1974-1992).

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