Tom Boerwinkle, the former Chicago Bulls center who had a franchise-record 37 rebounds in a 1970 game against the Phoenix Suns, has died. He was 67.
Bulls spokesman Tim Hallam said Wednesday that a family member informed team officials of Boerwinkle's death, and the University of Tennessee issued a statement saying the former Volunteers player died Tuesday at his home near Chicago after a lengthy illness.
The 7-foot Boerwinkle, drafted fourth overall in 1968, averaged 7.2 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 10 seasons with the Bulls from 1968-69 to 1977-78. He also worked as an analyst on the team's radio broadcasts from 1991-94.
''We were all heartbroken this morning to learn of the passing of Tom Boerwinkle,'' said Steve Schanwald, the Bulls' executive vice president of business operations. ''In addition to being one of the Bulls' all-time great players, Tom was one of the kindest men you would ever want to meet with the gentlest of souls. A true gentle giant who made great contributions to the Chicago Bulls' organization on and off the court.''
Boerwinkle, from Independence, Ohio, averaged 11.4 points and 9.2 rebounds at Tennessee, helping the Vols win the 1967 Southeastern Conference title. As a senior in 1967-68, he averaged 15.2 points and 11.3 rebounds.
''Tom was a once-in-a-lifetime guy,'' former Tennessee teammate Bill Justus said in a statement released by the university. ''When you meet a guy like him and have him as a teammate, he becomes a brother to you, and there's no replacing someone like that. Despite his sheer size and presence, he was as genuine and loyal as can be. That's not just me saying that. Those are the sentiments of many, many of his former teammates.''