Eaton blocking a Houston Rockets Otis Thorpe shot. He credited Wilt Chamberlain with inspiring him to focus on basket defense. Credit ... Images
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, and his stint with the Jazz followed.
"I had an unusual background," Eaton said for a story posted on theJazz website two years ago. "It's an unlikely story, to be sure. I basically entered the N.B.A. with two years of college experience and sat on the bench at U.C.L.A. during two years. And Frank Layden gave me a chance and the team was in a space where they could afford to let me make mistakes and put my feet under me. It worked well for both of us. "
The Jazz described him in a statement as a " enduring figure in our history. franchise ".
Eaton had been, among other things, a restaurateur and motivational speaker in his retirement.
Mark Eaton was born January 24, 1957 in Inglewood, Calif. Information on the survivors was not immediately available.
These in recent years he has served as a mentor to the Rudy Gobert Jazz Center, the only autre player in the history of the team to have won the title of Defensive Player of the Year.
His 11 seasons of play with the Jazz are third in team history, behind longtime Utah stalwarts Karl Malone and John Stockton. 6.0 points and 7.9 rebounds. Image Eaton shoots Nate Johnston of the Portland Trailblazers. He spent all his N.B.A. career with Utah Jazz. Credit ... Images
But his best skill was to defend the rim, and he once recounted how Wilt Chamberlain offered him career advice. He shared the story in a motivational speech, telling theother than rule # 1 for success is "knowing your job ".
"Wilt grabbed me by the arm, m 'knocked me down, put me right in front of the basket, "Eaton said." He said,' See that basket? Your job is to keep the players from getting there. Your job is to Make them miss r shoot, grab the rebound, throw it at the guard, let it drop to the other side and score, and your job is to navigate to halfway and see what happens . '"
" When Wilt shared this with me, everything changed "he said. what I needed to do. I understood what I could be great at. Wilt showed me what my job was and how doing what I was doing would benefit my team. "
Eaton 's # 53 was one of the first jerseys to be retired by Jazz.
IHe was Defensive Player of the Year in 1984-85 and 1988-89, was selected for the All-Defensive squad five times - first three - nods, two second picks team - and was an All-Star in 1989. He retired in September 1994.