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Mark Eaton, record-breaking shot blocker for Jazz, dies at 64

Aug 5, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; A general view of the Utah Jazz playing against the Memphis Grizzlies during the second half at HP Field House at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 5, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Mandatory Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Eaton, a former two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, has died at age 64.

The Utah Jazz, with whom he spent his entire 11-year career (1982-1992), confirmed his death to The Salt Lake Tribune on Saturday. The cause of death was not disclosed, but local outlet KUTV reported Eaton went for a bike ride Friday evening and failed to return.

Just two days ago, he posted on Twitter a photo of himself in Chicago, flanked by former NFL players Paul Krause and Jim McMahon, where he was part of the group invited to watch umpire Joe West set the all-time mark for games umpired on Tuesday.

Eaton, a native Southern Californian, played at UCLA and was a fourth-round draft pick of the Jazz in 1982. The 7-foot-4 center averaged 6.0 points per game in his career, but scoring was just a bonus for the Jazz.

It was on the defensive end that he was a stalwart for the Jazz. Four times, he led the NBA in blocked shots, rejecting a record 5.6 shots per game in the 1984-85 season. A three-time selection to the league’s first-team All-Defensive Team, he was Defensive Player of the Year in the 1984-85 and 1988-89 seasons. He received his only All-Star selection in the latter year.

Eaton was remarkably durable throughout his career, missing just nine regular-season games in his first 10 seasons with the Jazz.

He retired with an average of 7.9 rebounds and 3.5 blocks in 875 career games (815 starts). His 3.5 blocks per game are an NBA record. He is fourth on the all-time list for blocks with 3,064.

–Field Level Media

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