Denver Nuggets A to Z: T.R. Dunn

Guard earned reputation as one of the great defensive players of his era
by Aaron Lopez

When it came to defensive assignments, T.R. Dunn rarely got a break.

George Gervin, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Clyde Drexler. Name an All-Star guard or forward from the 1980s and Dunn probably had to guard him. He did it without complaint and often without giving an inch.

As part of a month-long tribute to some of the most memorable players in franchise history, we are taking a look at the Denver Nuggets from A to Z.

Appropriately, D is for Dunn. And durable. And dependable.

From the time he was traded from Portland to Denver in 1980, Dunn served as a defensive rock for Nuggets coach Doug Moe. He also was one of the best rebounding guards of his era; his 7.5 rebounds per game in 1982-83 ranked second to Johnson among all guards.

Though the Nuggets were among the NBA’s highest-scoring teams under Moe in the 80s, Dunn rarely broke character from his defensive role. Moe often ordered Dunn to refrain from shooting anything but layups, because it took away opportunities from polished scorers such as Alex English, Dan Issel, Fat Lever and Kiki Vandeweghe.

Proving he was the consummate team player, Dunn averaged 4.2 field-goal attempts per game during his 10 seasons with the Nuggets. He also missed just four games in his first eight seasons in Denver.

Playing his role to a ‘T’ – or more accurately, a ‘D’ – Dunn made life as difficult as possible for elite scorers such as Gervin and Jordan. His work was recognized with three straight NBA All-Defensive Second Team selections from 1982-85. Dunn remains second to Lever on Denver’s career steals list (1,070).

After retiring in 1991 following 12 NBA seasons with Portland, Denver and Phoenix, Dunn joined the Charlotte Hornets as an assistant coach. He later worked as an assistant for the Nuggets, Sacramento Kings, Houston Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves.

Game to Remember, March 1, 1983

Given the task of defending high-scoring guard World B. Free, Dunn made an impact of his own offensively in a 132-121 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Dunn scored 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting. He made all six of his free-throw attempts and also added 14 rebounds.