Utah Jazz Legend, Mark Eaton found dead


Written by: B. Keith Crear III | SFL Photo-Journalist

Utah Jazz player Mark Eaton, 7-foot-4 and a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, passed away Saturday, according to the team. He was 64 years old. Police said Eaton was found lying in the road around 8:30 p.m., according to the Jazz. He was reported to have crashed his bike in Summit County, Utah, on Friday. The Summit County Sheriff's Office told the team that Eaton was taken to a hospital, where he later died, and that there was no reason to believe a vehicle was involved.

"The Utah Jazz are profoundly saddened at the unexpected passing of Mark Eaton, who was an enduring figure in our franchise history and had a significant impact in the community after his basketball career," the team said in a statement.

"... His presence continued around the organization as a friend and ambassador while giving back as a businessman and volunteer to his adopted hometown in Utah. We extend our deepest condolences to his wife Teri and their extended family. Mark will be greatly missed by all of us with the Jazz."

In 1984-85, the center led the NBA in blocks per game four times, and his average of 5.6 per game remains the highest since the NBA began officially tracking that statistic.

"He was so impressive," longtime NBA broadcaster Mike Inglis, now the radio voice of the Miami Heat, said Saturday. "I used to call him the human condominium complex. He was something else on defense, let me tell you."

The best career blocks average in NBA history is that of Eaton, whose career occurred almost by chance. As a mechanic in 1977, he was convinced to enroll in a community college by a basketball coach. He went on to UCLA, and was a member of the Jazz for a time. As a Jazz player, he has played 11 seasons, ranking third behind longtime stars Karl Malone and John Stockton. With 338 consecutive games played once, he was notable for his durability. With a career average of 6.0 points and 7.9 rebounds, he had a great career. It was Eaton's No. 53 that was one of the Jazz's first retired jerseys. Besides being DPOY in 1984-85 and 1988-89, he was a five-time all-defensive team selection - three times on the first team, two times on the second team - and an All-Star in 1989.

During his retirement, he had been a restaurateur and a motivational speaker, among other things. His mentorship recently extended to Utah center Rudy Gobert -- the only other Jazz player in history to win Defensive Player of the Year.

"To my great mentor and friend @markeaton7ft4, one of kind and an amazing human being, i'm grateful for your presence in my life over the years," Gobert posted Saturday on Twitter. "Gonna miss our conversations. But i know you'll be watching."

No comments

Powered by Blogger.