Utah Jazz Great Passes Away Ahead of Team’s Big Game 3 Victory
The Utah Jazz played Game 3 with heavy hearts on Saturday night.
On Saturday, the franchise announced the death of franchise great Mark Eaton. The 7-foot-4 center was a former Defensive Player of the Year and passed away at the young age of 64.
“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.”
We are heartbroken by the passing of Utah Jazz legend Mark Eaton.
Our thoughts are with his family as we all mourn the loss of a great man, mentor, athlete and staple of the community. pic.twitter.com/HkINyLF9ix
— utahjazz (@utahjazz) May 29, 2021
According to reports, Eaton was found lying on the road on Friday evening after an apparent bicycle crash in Summit County, Utah. He would later die in the hospital. Eaton, who averaged an NBA record 3.51 blocks per game for his career spent his entire NBA tenure with the Utah Jazz organization.
“Mark was someone that was a friend, and I think a friend who a lot of us, in his relationship with Rudy Gobert I think is emblematic of who he was and his ability to listen,” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said. “And then to offer counsel and support was something that was really unique, and obviously we’ll miss him.”
The NBPA released a statement on Eaton’s passing as well.
“It may be cliched, but it’s true: Mark Eaton was a giant, in every sense of the word,” the NBPA statement said. “A long-time member of the NBPA Executive Committee right through his retirement from the league in 1994, Mark served his colleagues with grace and strength, and continued to watch over them through his service for the Retired Players Association. His imposing physical presence made a delightful match with his warm and thoughtful manner.”
The Jazz would go onto win Game 3 over the Memphis Grizzlies, taking a crucial 2-1 series lead.