Kevin Duckworth was the ninth pick in the 2nd round of the 1986 NBA draft, chosen by the San Antonio Spurs. Later that season, he was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers for rookie Walter Berry. His rookie season was unspectacular, as Duckworth came off the bench to back up center Steve Johnson (who in turn got the starting center position when Sam Bowie suffered a broken leg). However, the next season Johnson went down with an injury (in addition; Bowie broke his leg again at the beginning of the season), and Duckworth was pushed into the starting role, from where he averaged 15.8 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. Also, after having previously never averaged over 70.0 percent from the free throw line, he shot 77% that year, rebounded well, and played good defense – earning him the 1988 NBA Most Improved Player Award. The following season, Duckworth improved his averages to 18.1 points and 8.0 rebounds, and was named to the Western Conference All-Star team. After the 1988–89 campaign, Bowie was traded to the New Jersey Nets for Buck Williams and Steve Johnson. Johnson was left unprotected in the 1989 expansion draft, allowing Duckworth to become the starting center. The 1990 and 1991 seasons were also successful for Kevin Duckworth and the Blazers. Although 1988–89 was statistically Duckworth’s best season, the team enjoyed greater success in the following years — advancing to the NBA Finals in 1990, and posting a 63–19 record in 1990–91. The presence of Williams as the starting power forward, with rebounding as his main assignment, allowed Duckworth to concentrate on scoring and defense. In 1991 Duckworth was also selected as an NBA All-Star for a second time.
Kevin Duckworth’s production began to slip in 1991–92, he was constantly out played at times in the 1992 NBA Finals and was even less productive at times throughout the following season. At the end of 1992–93, Duckworth was traded to the Washington Bullets for forward Harvey Grant. Duckworth played two seasons with the Bullets, where he struggled with weight problems. During the 1994-95 season, he was suspended indefinitely for not staying in physical condition, where he weighed over 310lbs. He was then traded to the Milwaukee Bucks for the 1995-96 season, missing most of the season due to injuries. He then played for the Los Angeles Clippers in 1996–97, after which he retired from professional basketball. Kevin Duckworth died of heart failure on August 25, 2008 in Gleneden Beach, Oregon. He collapsed in his hotel room, and emergency services were unable to revive him. His death was confirmed by the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office. Duckworth was in town as part of a Trail Blazers group hosting a free children’s basketball clinic. An autopsy identified the cause of death as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy with congestive heart failure. He was 44.
- April, 01, 1964
- Harvey, Illinois
- August, 25, 2008
- Gleneden Beach, Oregon
Cause of Death
- ypertrophic cardiomyopathy with congestive heart failure