The former center of the Utah Jazz, Mark Eaton, who led the NBA in blocks and was twice voted Defensive Player of the Year, died as a result of a bicycle accident at 64, according to his former team.
The Jazz explained through a statement that police found Eaton lying on the road around 8:30 p.m. local time on Friday after he apparently crashed his bicycle in Summit County, Utah.
According to the Utah team, the Sheriff’s Office informed them that Eaton was taken to a hospital, where he later died, and that there was no reason to believe that a vehicle was involved in the accident.
“The Utah Jazz are deeply saddened by the unexpected passing of Mark Eaton., who was an enduring figure in the history of our franchise and had a significant impact on the community after his basketball career, “the team said in a statement.
“He was always our ambassador and we offer our condolences to his wife Teri and family, “he added.
For its part, The NBA also through a statement “regretted” the death of Eaton, whom he considered a legend of the Jazz after having been voted twice to the All-Star Party and having been president of the Retired Players Association.
The pivot spent his entire career with the Jazz, led the league in blocks four times And his average of 5.6 per game in 1984-85 is still the highest average since the NBA began officially accounting for that statistic.
Eaton’s career blocking average of 3.51 per game is the best in NBA history, and his career happened almost by accident.
Eaton worked as an auto mechanic in 1977 when a community college basketball coach convinced him to enroll. From there, he went to UCLA, and continued his stint with the Jazz.
The Phoenix Suns chose him at number 107 in the 1979 college drawing, then he was selected again at 72 by the Jazz in 1982 and his last game he played in 1993But back problems ended his career and he retired in September 1994.
Their 11 seasons with the Jazz they are the third-most in team history, behind Utah mainstays, former power forward Karl Malone and former point guard John Stockton. His durability was remarkable, appearing once in 338 consecutive games. He finished his career with averages of 6.0 points and 7.9 rebounds.
Eaton always wore the number 53 on his shirt and it was one of the first retirements by the Jazz. He was voted Defensive Player of the Year in the 1984-85 and 1988-89 seasons, selected five times to the Defensive Team (three first-team nominations, two second-team selections) and was an All-Star in 1989.
The former center had been, among other things, restorer and motivational speaker in his retirement. In recent years, He served as a mentor to the Jazz center, Frenchman Rudy Gobert, the only other player in team history to win the Defensive Player of the Year award.
“To my great mentor and friend, one of a kind and an amazing human being, I am grateful for his presence in my life throughout the years, ”Gobert posted on Twitter. “I am going to miss our conversations. But I know you will be watching. “
(With information from EFE)