Nuggets of the 90s: Tom Hammonds

by Christopher Dempsey
Nuggets Insider
@chrisadempsey

If there was a player who’s on-court play was more accurately defined by a hard hat than Tom Hammonds, you’d be hard-pressed to find him.

Hammonds was known for his unflinching willingness to do the dirty work and accomplish the detail items every team needs in order to win. He was a key member as a reserve on the 1993-94 Nuggets team that went on to upset the top-seeded Seattle SuperSonics in the first round of the playoffs.

"(Nuggets coach Dan Issel) knew when I got in the game, I was going to fight for every basket and every rebound,” Hammonds told Nuggets.com in 2014. “No matter what, he could expect that.”

Hammonds played in five seasons for the Nuggets after signing with the team as a free agent late in the 1993 campaign. A star at Georgia Tech, who had his No. 20 retired during the last game of his senior season, Hammonds was drafted ninth overall by the Washington Bullets in 1989 and played for Wes Unseld Sr., the father of current Nuggets assistant Wes Unseld.

With the Nuggets, Hammonds regained his mojo and played a key role as a top reserve.

His best season was in 1996-97, when he averaged 6.2 points and 5.0 rebounds playing in 81 games. Hammonds scored a season-high 29 points with seven rebounds and five assists in a game against Portland late in the season. Hammonds played 331 games in all with the Nuggets, and was an ironman, never participating in fewer than 70 games in any of his four full seasons in the Mile High City.

He played 12 seasons in the NBA overall before retiring and focusing in on a lifelong love of racing cars. Hammonds had started in college and kept it up on the side throughout his playing career. He dove in the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Pro Stock series, and later started the Race For Achievement program to promote racing, leadership, education and sportsmanship among middle school and high school students.

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