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IN CASE YOU FORGOT: Dan “The Horse” Issel

By Calvin Kamrath

This is a new series I’m debuting highlighting the forgotten stars of the past. Much more to come!

Dan Issel, for those who don’t know, was a legendary player for the University of Kentucky. Underneath one of the most unknown college coaches, Adolph Rupp, who is a legend in his own right. Issel played three seasons for UK and averaged an astonishing 25.7 points while doing it (Remember people, this is half a century ago). Kentucky is by far one of the most popular and dominant college’s in basketballs history, and Issel stands atop the mountain as the leading scorer in Kentucky’s illustrious history.

His historic play didn’t stop at Kentucky, however. Instead of electing to play for Christopher Wimsatt’s very own Detroit Pistons, Issel elected to play for the Kentucky Colonels of the ABA (I would’ve too). Right out of the gates, Issel would make his mark by going on to score 29.9 PPG and pulling down 13.2 TRPG in his first year with the Colonels. The next year, he continued his path of dominance, raising his scoring average to an even more impressive 30.6 PPG. He would win MVP of that years ABA All Star game and get selected to the All ABA’s First Team.

Five short years later, with the help of a big man named Artis Gilmore, Dan brought a ABA Championship to the Kentucky Colonels and was an All Star each and every year he was with the team.

One year after the title winning season, Issel was traded to the Baltimore Claws for some cash considerations and Tom Owens. The Claws didn’t make it to the season, and traded Issel to the Denver Nuggets for Cash and Dave Robisch.

Issel would remain with Denver for the rest of his career and post ABA-NBA Merger, Issel would have an All Star appearance and become the Nuggets second leading scorer in history. With 27,482 points scored in his career, Issel is one of the many names that is forgotten in NBA circles when talking about legends. Issel would be inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 1993.

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