Mark Eaton, the longtime Utah Jazz center and two-time Defensive Player of the Year, has died at 64. He was found lying in the road after an apparent bicycle accident in Summit County, Utah on Friday night, the Jazz announced Saturday. According to officials, “there is no reason to believe a vehicle was involved in the incident. He was transported to a hospital where he later died.
“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 wrote. “Mark played his entire 11-year NBA career with the Jazz and his number was retired as an NBA All-Star and two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year,” the Utah Jazz 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.”
Eaton, who was 7-foot-4, was one of the greatest shot-blockers in NBA history. He is fourth in NBA history with 3,064 total blocks, and in one season, he blocked an absurd 5.6 shots per game. He led the league in blocks four times: in 1984, 1985, 1987 and 1988. He made the All-Star Game in 1985 and had his No. 53 jersey retired by the Jazz. Rudy Gobert is the only other Jazz player to have won Defensive Player of the Year, and he posted a tribute to Eaton on Twitter after hearing the news.
The Jazz are set to play the Memphis Grizzlies in the third game of their first-round series They will now do so with heavy hearts. Eaton only ever played for the Jazz and established himself as one of the greatest players in team history during his career.