The circumstances around Mark Eaton’s death were revealed late Saturday just hours after the Utah Jazz announced the former star center had died.
The 64-year-old died in an apparent bike crash in Utah, authorities said. The 7-foot-4 center left his home for a bike ride Friday night in Summit County. Someone then called 911 to report a man lying on the roadway and unconscious. The man was taken to the hospital where he later died.
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He was later identified as Eaton.
The team, citing police who investigated, said, “there is no reason to believe a vehicle was involved in the incident.”
Utah selected Eaton in the fourth round of the 1982 NBA Draft out of UCLA. He played for Utah from 1982 to 1993. He was a five-time All-Defensive First Team selection, a four-time block champion, two-time Defensive Player of the Year and was named to an All-Star team once.
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He finished his career with 3,064 blocks. He is fifth all-time in that category behind Hakeem Olajuwon, Dikembe Mutombo, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Artis Gilmore. He and Tree Rollins are the only former players in the top 10 in career blocks who are not in the Hall of Fame. He also holds the record for most blocks in a season with 456.
After his career was over, Eaton was a motivational speaker and an author. He mentored current Jazz center Rudy Gobert.
“I will text Rudy on occasion and tell him your job is to guard the entire team. The paint is your house. Don’t let anybody in there,” Eaton told the Jazz’s website in 2019. “I love watching him. He’s so exciting.”
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Utah retired his No. 53 jersey during the 1995-96 season.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.