Mark Eaton, who was twice the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in his entire career with the Utah Jazz, has died aged 64.
The team announced her death on Saturday but did not give a cause or details, only saying it was unexpected.
The Jazz described him in a statement as an enduring figure in his history who had a “significant impact in the community” after his basketball career.
The 7-foot-4 center has led the league in blocks per game on four occasions, his 5.6-per-game average in 1984-85 remaining the highest since the NBA officially began tracking the statistic.
Although Eaton’s career block average of 3.51 per game became the best in NBA history, his career happened almost by accident – 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 before playing 11 seasons with the Jazz – the third-highest number in the team’s history behind longtime Utah cornerstones Karl Malone and John Stockton.
His durability was also remarkable, as he appeared once in 338 straight games and finished with career averages of 6.0 points and 7.9 rebounds.
Eaton was Defensive Player of the Year in 1984-85 and 1988-89 as well as an All-Star in 1989 with his No.53 jersey, one of the first to be retired by the Jazz after his last game for the team in 1993..
Following his retirement, Eaton had been, among other things, restaurateur and motivational speaker and mentor of Utah center Rudy Gobert, the only other player in jazz history to win the defensive player of the year.