Denver Nuggets A to Z: Calvin Natt

Hard-nosed power forward became instant fan favorite

By Demetrius Jacobs, Special to

While some of his teammates headed to the movies or found other activities to keep busy on the road, Calvin Natt discovered a unique way to pass the time.

He headed to the local funeral home.

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

N is for Natt, an All-Star power forward who became a funeral-home director after he retired following an 11-year NBA career.

Considered one of the great players of Denver’s rainbow-skyline jersey era, Natt was an absolute menace for the opposition, and his blue-collar style made him an instant favorite among Nuggets fans.

Despite being undersized at his position, the 6-foot-6 Natt was known as the Pit Bull because of his relentless defense and tenacity on the boards. His hard-nosed mentality allowed him to frustrate some of the great big men of his era.

Natt came to Denver, along with triple-double machine Lafayette “Fat” Lever and forward Wayne Cooper, in the trade that sent Kiki Vandeweghe to the Portland Trail Blazers on June 7, 1984.

Perfectly suited for coach Doug Moe’s fast-paced system, Natt instantly flourished in Denver. He averaged 23.3 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 1984-85 and earned his first career All-Star selection.

The Nuggets won the Midwest Division with a 52-30 record and advanced to the Western Conference finals for the first time in franchise history.

Natt averaged 17.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.4 assist in 1985-86, but injuries began to take its toll that season and would plague him for the remainder of his career. He suffered a torn ACL in the 1986-87 opener and missed the rest of the season.

While Natt eventually returned to the court, his game was never the same. He simply was unable to play the physical style that made him so successful earlier in his career. Natt was traded to the San Antonio Spurs on Jan. 26, 1989 and retired after spending the 1989-90 season with the Indiana Pacers.

While his basketball career ended, Natt’s story certainly didn’t. He had long been interested in the funeral-home business and took the opportunity to fulfill that dream. Natt became an ordained minister and opened a funeral home in Denver. He had no experience with funeral homes, but he learned about the industry by visiting funeral homes in other NBA cities while on the road with the Nuggets.

He devoted himself to grieving families in their time of need and took care of their loved ones with respect and dignity. That surely makes him a different kind of All-Star.

Game to remember, March 5, 1985

Natt outplayed future Hall of Fame center Ralph Sampson by scoring a career-high 37 points to help the Nuggets outlast the Houston Rockets 133-131 in double-overtime. Natt also grabbed 15 rebounds as Denver extended its home winning streak to 15 games.