Swen Nater

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Swen Nater
Swen Nater with UCLA shooting.png
Nater shooting with UCLA in 1972–73
Personal information
Born (1950-01-14) January 14, 1950 (age 68)
Den Helder, North Holland, Netherlands
Nationality Dutch
Listed height 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)
Listed weight 240 lb (109 kg)
Career information
High school Wilson (Long Beach, California)
NBA draft 1973 / Round: 1 / Pick: 16th overall
Selected by the Milwaukee Bucks
Playing career 1973–1985
Position Center
Number 31, 10, 35, 41
Career history
1973 Virginia Squires
1973–1975 San Antonio Spurs
1975–1976 New York Nets
1976 Virginia Squires
1976–1977 Milwaukee Bucks
19771983 Buffalo Braves / San Diego Clippers
1983–1984 Los Angeles Lakers
1984–1985 Australian Udine
Career highlights and awards
Career ABA and NBA statistics
Points 8,980 (12.4 ppg)
Rebounds 8,340 (11.6 rpg)
Assists 1,235 (1.7 apg)
Stats at Basketball-Reference.com

Swen Erick Nater (born January 14, 1950) is a retired Dutch professional basketball player, primarily in the American Basketball Association (ABA) and National Basketball Association (NBA). He is the only player to have led both the NBA and ABA in rebounding. Nater was a two-time ABA All-Star and was the 1974 ABA Rookie of the Year. He played college basketball for the UCLA Bruins, winning two National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) titles.

Early life[edit]

Swen Nater was born in the Netherlands, his parents divorcing when he was three years old. When his mother remarried and the family's economic situation deteriorated, she, her husband, and Swen's younger brother moved to the United States, leaving Swen and his sister in an orphanage. After three years it appeared they would remain in the Netherlands until a television show, It Could Be You (a forerunner to This Is Your Life), discovered the situation and brought the two siblings to America to be reunited—on TV—with the rest of the family. At age nine, he was in a new country and did not speak a word of English.[1][2]. Swen graduated from Long Beach Wilson High School in California.

College career[edit]

Nater attended and played basketball at Cypress College, a junior college in Cypress, California (where he met his wife, Marlene). He played little as a freshman, but was a Community College All-American as a sophomore. He earned a scholarship to UCLA, and redshirted his first year.

Nater helped John Wooden's UCLA Bruins win two NCAA titles. He was a backup to Bill Walton, and he never started a collegiate game—his primary role was helping to develop Walton in practice.[3][4]

Professional career[edit]

Nater was drafted by The Floridians in the 1972 ABA Draft, and then by the Virginia Squires in the June 1972 ABA dispersal draft after the Floridians' demise.[5][6] Nater was also drafted in the first round of the 1973 NBA draft with the 16th overall pick by the Milwaukee Bucks;[7] he was the first NBA first-round pick to have played in the NCAA without ever starting a college game.[2] In August 1973, he opted to sign with the Squires.[6] On November 21, 1973 the Squires traded Nater to the San Antonio Spurs for a draft pick and $300,000.[6]

With the Spurs, Nater was the American Basketball Association Rookie of the Year[4] and led the ABA in field goal percentage in 1974. He led the ABA in rebounding in 1975. He was named to the All-ABA Second Team in 1974 and 1975, and participated in the ABA All-Star Game both seasons.[5] During his three seasons in the ABA, Nater played for the Spurs, Squires, and the New York Nets.

Nater's NBA career began with the Milwaukee Bucks, and he was traded after one season to the Buffalo Braves. When the Braves played in San Diego, Nater became a local favorite. Nater led the NBA in rebounding average during the 1979–80 season, making him the only player ever to lead both the NBA and ABA in rebounding.[4]

Before the 1983–84 season, Nater was traded by the Clippers along with a just-drafted Byron Scott to the Los Angeles Lakers for Norm Nixon, Eddie Jordan, and a 1986 second-round draft pick (which would eventually be dealt to the Phoenix Suns and become Jeff Hornacek). Nater and Scott helped lead the Lakers to the NBA Finals that year, but the next season the team did not offer him a guaranteed contract.

Nater played for Australian Udine in the Italian League, where he was the best paid player and led the league in rebounding even though the team ended up being relegated. The next season, he initially accepted an offer from Barcelona in the Spanish League, but ultimately he changed his mind and decided to retire.

After the NBA[edit]

He built the basketball program Christian Heritage College in San Diego, California, and coached from 1985 to 1995.[8] He left the position because it "was high on work and low on pay."

He then went to work for Costco, for whom he is a sporting goods assistant buyer.[3][8]

Nater lives in Des Moines, Washington, overlooking the beautiful Puget Sound, with his wife of six years, Dr. Wendy Ghiora.

Nater has also co-authored books with legendary basketball coaches Wooden and Pete Newell.


  • Wooden, John; Nater, Swen (2006). John Wooden's UCLA Offense. Human Kinetics. ISBN 9780736061803. 
  • Newell, Pete; Nater, Swen (2007). Pete Newell's Playing Big. Champaign, Illinois: Human Kinetics. ISBN 9780736068093. 

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-09-10. Retrieved 2014-03-05. 
  2. ^ a b Walton, Bill (February 24, 2004). "What a long, strange trip it's been, Swen". ESPN.com. Archived from the original on May 13, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Raley, Dan (January 9, 2008). "Where Are They Now?, Seattle Post Intelligencer". Archived from the original on May 13, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c Hartman, Steve; Smith, Matt (2009). The Great Book of Los Angeles Sports Lists. Running Press. p. 200. ISBN 9780786748877. Retrieved March 22, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b BasketballReference.com Swen Nater page Archived 2008-12-27 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ a b c RememberTheABA.com Virginia Squires detailed year by year notes page
  7. ^ Hazeltine, Rick (December 17, 1988). "LOOKING UP TO HIM : Swen Nater Is a Lifetime Rebounder With Valuable Lessons to Pass On". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on May 13, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b Broussard, Chris (January 11, 2004). "THEN AND NOW -- Swen Nater; Big Man Loved the Game, Then Learned to Play It". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-07-08. 

External links[edit]