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updated: 3/27/2013 9:37 PM

Ex-Bulls' center Tom Boerwinkle dead at 67

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  • In this Oct. 13, 1970 file photo, Chicago Bulls' Tom Boerwinkle (18) grabs a rebound against San Diego Rockets' Don Adams (32) during an NBA basketball game in Chicago. Boerwinkle, who played 10 seasons with the Bulls, died Tuesday, March 26, 2013, at age 67.

      In this Oct. 13, 1970 file photo, Chicago Bulls' Tom Boerwinkle (18) grabs a rebound against San Diego Rockets' Don Adams (32) during an NBA basketball game in Chicago. Boerwinkle, who played 10 seasons with the Bulls, died Tuesday, March 26, 2013, at age 67.
    Associated Press

 
 

If anyone grabbed 37 rebounds in a single NBA game these days, that player would be hailed as a legend.

Tom Boerwinkle did it for the Bulls on Jan. 8, 1970 against Phoenix, but playing in the era of great centers, that mark -- still a franchise record -- was largely overlooked.

More recently, Boerwinkle was a frequent visitor to the United Center, always friendly, always supporting his former team. No one spent more time with the Bulls (10 seasons) without playing for another team.

Boerwinkle died Tuesday at 67 following a long illness, though you wouldn't have known he was sick by watching him.

He spent some time working on the Bulls broadcast team and radio announcer Neil Funk knew him better than anyone.

"He was successful, yet no one worked harder at it," Funk told bulls.com. "He bought a failing oil company and made it a success. He was the kind of guy, we'd get back from a road trip and he'd be going to his office. Yet, you'd never hear him ever talk about long hours. So successful, but so low key about it."

Boerwinkle was the No. 4 overall pick in the 1968 draft out of Tennessee. He currently ranks second on the team's all-time rebound list, fifth in games played and eighth in assists.

He averaged 13.8 rebounds during the 1970-71 season, then missed large parts of two seasons from 1972-74, when the Bulls needed him against Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

He teamed with Jerry Sloan, Bob Love, Chet Walker and Norm Van Lier to provide the first great era in team history.

"He was one of the best teammates you could have," Sloan told bulls.com. "Humble, hard working, a great person, fun to be around every day. We were guys who were as good as we could be and good for Chicago, and Tom was one of those guys."

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