Mark Eaton Utah Jazz Career Highlights

May 29, 2021, 11:58 AM
Utah Jazz center Mark Eaton with Los Angeles Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Photo by Mike Powel...
Utah Jazz center Mark Eaton with Los Angeles Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Photo by Mike Powell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Powell/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Former Utah Jazz center Mark Eaton passed away at the age of 64. The NBA legend spent 11 seasons in the NBA and helped usher in a new era of Jazz basketball, establishing the team as one of the premier franchises in the league.

Eaton was drafted twice into the NBA, first by the Phoenix Suns, but chose to become a career as an auto mechanic rather than try out for the team.

After returning to the court in 1981 and 1982 with the UCLA Bruins, Eaton was drafted by the Jazz in 1982 leading to a decorated NBA career.

Eaton’s Rookie Season

After a modest career at UCLA where he appeared in only 30 games of two seasons, Eaton was an immediate contributor with the Jazz.

In just his second game with the team, Eaton scored four points, blocked seven shots,  and grabbed six rebounds in the 128-123 victory over the Dallas Mavericks.

Eaton had the best game of his rookie season in a 101-97 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. The center scored a season-high 16 points, blocked 13 shots, and grabbed nine rebounds in the loss.

The 13 blocks are the second-most all-time by a rookie in a single game in NBA history.

In a 143-136 loss to the Denver Nuggets, Eaton recorded a triple-double scoring 12 points, grabbing 14 rebounds, and blocking 12 shots.

Eaton is the only player in Jazz history to record a triple-double as a rookie.

Eaton Leads NBA In Blocks Four Times

After a breakout rookie season, Eaton quickly became a mainstay in the Jazz rotation. Eaton’s minutes climbed from 18 minutes per game to 26 minutes and saw his shot-blocking numbers take a meteoric rise.

Eaton would lead the NBA in four out of five seasons beginning his sophomore year and stretching to his sixth season in the NBA.

Over the stretch, Eaton had averages of 4.3, 5.6, 4.6, 4.1, and 3.7 blocks per game while missing just five games total over the five seasons.

Eaton’s 1985 season when he averaged 5.6 blocks per game stands as an NBA record for the highest average in a single season. With 456 blocks in 1985, Eaton is the only player in NBA history to block at least 400 shots in a single season.

Two-Time NBA Defensive Player Of The Year

Eaton became the first Jazz player to earn the Defensive Player of the Year award in 1985.

In addition to averaging an NBA record 5.6 blocks per game, Eaton blocked at least 10 shots six times during the season, becoming only the second player in NBA history to reach the total.

The Jazz center easily beat out Sidney Moncrief for the award, earning 32 of the 78 first-place votes for Defensive Player of the Year.

Eaton won the award again in 1989 after averaging 3.8 blocks and 10.3 rebounds for the Jazz.

The center barely edged out Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Dennis Rodman for the award.

Eaton Selected To 1989 All-Star Game

In 1989, Eaton earned his lone All-Star bid during his 11 year NBA career.

John Stockton, Karl Malone, and Eaton were selected to the 1989 team as the Jazz won a then franchise-record 51 games.

Eaton grabbed five rebounds and blocked two shots in nine minutes on the court, while Malone took home MVP honors.

The West won the game 143-134 in Houston, Texas.

Jazz Retire Eaton’s Jersey

Eaton retired from the NBA in 1994 due to lingering back issues. The center missed the entire 1993-94 season due to the injuries and officially announced his retirement in September of that year.

On March 1, 1996, the Jazz retired Eaton’s number 53 jersey. Eaton was just the fourth player in franchise history to have his number hung in the rafters following Pete Maravich (7), Frank Layden (coach), and Darrell Griffith (35).

Eaton ranks third among all franchise players in minutes and career games with 875 appearances in a Jazz uniform.

He ranks second in franchise rebounds with 6,939 and career triple-doubles with six.

Eaton leads the Jazz all-time in total blocks with 3,064 and blocks per game at 3.5.

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