Mark Eaton, the 7-foot-4 king who was twice the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in a career entirely devoted to Utah Jazz, has passed away. He was 64 years old.
Eaton left his house for a Friday night bike ride in Summit County, Utah, and shortly thereafter someone called 911 to answer after seeing him lying unconscious on a street. Eaton was taken to hospital, where he later died.
The team quoted county officials who were investigating and said, « There is no reason to believe that a vehicle was involved in the incident. » / p> The Jazz described him in a statement as a « permanent figure in our franchise history » who « made a significant impact on the community after his basketball career ».
Utah coach Quin Snyder said Saturday night before Game 3 in Memphis that the team’s thoughts and prayers go to Eaton’s wife.
« Mark was someone who was a friend, and I think a friend that many of us in his relationship with Rudy Gobert think are symbolic of that are who he was and how he can listen, « said Snyder. « And then there was something really unique about offering advice and support, and of course we will miss him. »
The center topped the league four times in blocks per game and its average of 5.6 per competition in 1984 -85 remains the highest average since the NBA officially began tracking this statistic.
Eaton’s career blocks an average of 3.51 per game and is the best in NBA history. His career was almost accidental. He was working as an auto mechanic in 1977 when a community college basketball coach persuaded him to enroll. From there he went to UCLA and his stint at jazz followed.
« I came from an unusual background, » said Eaton of a story posted on the Jazz website two years ago. « It’s an unlikely story, to be sure. I got into the NBA with two years of experience in junior college and sat on the bench at UCLA for two years. And Frank Layden gave me a chance and the team was in a room , in which they could afford to let me make a few mistakes and get my feet under me. It worked out well for both of us. ”
Eaton had been a restaurateur and motivational speaker when he retired In recent years he was the mentor of Utah Center Rudy Gobert – the only other player in jazz history to receive the Defensive Player of the Year award. « He was so impressive, » said longtime NBA broadcaster Mike Inglis, now the radio voice for the Miami Heat, on Saturday, « I called it the Human Condominium Complex. He was something else on the defense, let me tell you. » the celebration for se A friend Joe West, who broke the referee record for baseball with his 5,376th regular season game on Tuesday night.
His eleven seasons with jazz are behind Utah’s long-standing cornerstones Karl Malone and John Stockton third place in team history. Its durability was notable as it appeared once in 338 consecutive games. He finished his career averaging 6.0 points and 7.9 rebounds.
But his best skill was defending the rim, and he once told a story about how Wilt Chamberlain gave him advice on his career. He picks up the story in a motivational speech and tells others that rule # 1 for success is to “know your job.”
“Wilt grabbed my arm, took me to the floor, and stood right in front of me in front of the basket. He said, “Do you see that basket? Your job is to prevent players from getting there. Your job is to get her to miss her shot, get the ricochet, toss it to the station, drop her on the other end and score, and your job is to go to halfway and see what’s going on, « said Eaton.
» When Wilt let me know, everything changed. I understood what I had to do, ”said Eaton. “I understand what I can be great at. Wilt showed me what my job was and how what I did would benefit my team. “
Eaton also served as an officer in the National Basketball Players Association, and the union released a statement Saturday that he would be missing.
» It may be clichéd, but it’s true: Mark Eaton was a giant in the truest sense of the word, « the NBPA statement said. “As a long-time member of the NBPA Executive Committee during his retirement in 1994, Mark served his colleagues with grace and strength, and continued to oversee them through his service to the Retired Players Association. His imposing physical presence matched his warm and thoughtful manner wonderfully. ”
Eaton’s # 53 was one of the first jerseys to be withdrawn from jazz. He was Defensive Player of the Year 1984-85 and 1988-89, was a five-time all-defensive team pick – three nods from the first team, two picks from the second team – and was an All-Star in 1989.
He was featured the 107th overall victory of Phoenix in the 1979 design and in 1982 Utah again moved to 72nd place in the overall design And he never went away; His last game was in 1993 but back problems ended his career and he retired in September 1994.
« It’s been a great ride but life has a way to go and I have to get on with it, » Eaton wrote in a column for The Salt Lake Tribune announcing his resignation. “Thank you for letting me be part of your life and your community. I’ll be there. «
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