Rodney K. Thorn (‘00 BA)
Rodney K. Thorn was born in Weirton, W.Va., and raised in Princeton. His talents in the classroom and on the hardwoods prompted his celebrity status while still attending high school. During his senior year in 1960, a statewide campaign – including a resolution by the state legislature naming him one of the West Virginia’s natural resources – persuaded him to enroll at WVU, where he became one of the Mountaineers’ all-time greats.
As a player for WVU, Thorn was accorded All-America basketball honors by the Helms Foundation, Look, Coach & Athlete and Converse. His three-year varsity career showed a 21.8 points per game average including a 23.7 scoring mark in 1962. He also averaged 11.1 rebounds per game for his career.
Thorn was drafted into the NBA in 1963, playing with teams in Baltimore, Detroit, St. Louis, and Seattle during his eight-year career.
In 1971, Thorn made the transition to coaching, working as an assistant with the Seattle Sonics and the New York Nets of the ABA before taking a position as head coach with the Spirit of St. Louis in 1976. Later, he became general manager for the Chicago Bulls, where he was responsible for the decision to draft Michael Jordan in 1984.
Thorn became the NBA’s executive vice-president of basketball operations in 1985. In 2000, he assumed his current position, as president and general manager of the New Jersey Nets, with responsibility of managing the basketball side of the organization, including all team personnel and player-related issues. In two short years he turned the franchise into one of the NBA’s best. In 2002, he was named the NBA’s Executive of the Year by Sporting News. This is the same year the Nets represented the eastern conference in the NBA championship series.
In 1992, Thorn was inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame. WVU awarded him an RBA degree in 2000. He also serves as a member of the WVU Board of Governors.