Daniel Paul “Dan” Issel (born October 25, 1948) is a retired American Hall of Fame professional basketball player and coach. An outstanding collegian at the University of Kentucky, he was twice named an All American en route to a still school record 25.7 points per game. The ABA Rookie of the Year in 1971, he was a six-time ABA All-Star and one-time NBA pick.
Upon Issel’s graduation in 1970 he was drafted by the Detroit Pistons of the NBA and the Kentucky Colonels of the ABA. Issel signed to play basketball for the Colonels and the ABA. Issel remained with the Nuggets following the ABA-NBA merger in June 1976, and represented Denver in the 1977 NBA All-Star Game. He remained productive, topping 20 points per game five of his remaining eight years. Retiring following the 1984-1985 season, he received the NBA’s J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award in 1985 for his outstanding service to the community.
Wearing number 44, Issel is the Nuggets’ second all-time leading scorer. He accumulated over 27,000 points in his combined ABA and NBA career, trailing only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Julius Erving upon his retirement. Issel currently ranks #9 on the all time combined ABA/NBA scoring list. He missed only 24 games in 15 seasons, earning him the moniker, “the Horse”. He was part of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 1993.
After his playing career Issel retired to his Courtland horse farm in Woodford County, Kentucky. He spent a year doing color commentary for Kentucky basketball games then became a Nuggets broadcaster from 1988-92.
Career highlights and awards
ABA Champion (1975)
6× ABA All-Star (1971–1976)
ABA All-Star Game MVP (1972)
NBA All-Star (1977)
All-ABA First Team (1972)
4× All-ABA Second Team (1971, 1973–1974, 1976)
ABA Rookie of the Year (1971)
J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award (1985)
ABA All-Time Team
No. 44 retired by Denver Nuggets
Consensus first-team All-American (1970)
Consensus second-team All-American (1969)