He didn’t make varsity on his high school basketball team in Batavia, Illinois until he was a junior. A huge growth spurt from 5’11” to 6’8’ helped, as did his high school coach who took the time to help make Dan Issel a future icon at the University of Kentucky, the ABA and the NBA.
Dan still holds the record as the all-time leading scorer at Kentucky, a record he set in 1970 that will likely never be broken. After college Dan played in the ABA and set the league on fire as the 1971 ABA Rookie of the Year and scoring champ, the 1972 ABA All Star Game MVP, ABA Champion in 1975 and 6-time ABA All-Star. After he was sold (yes sold) to the Nuggets and the ABA & NBA merged, Dan added another All-Star appearance to his name as a member of the NBA. His #44 jersey is one of 7 retired Nuggets jerseys.
After his playing days were over, Dan had two stints coaching the Nuggets, both of which ended with resignations. In retirement, Dan is now enjoying life in the Denver area with wife of over 50 years, Cheri, his two adult children and 5 grandchildren. Dan is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the College Basketball Hall of Fame and the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame.