Former NBA center Jack Haley has passed away at age 51, after allegedly suffering from a heart disease, ESPN reported. Haley died March 16, at Los Alamitos Medical Center, according to the Orange County coroner’s office website.
Haley’s former teammate Scottie Pippen sent his condolences via Twitter, saying “Very sorry to hear my old teammate, Jack Haley, has passed away. Great guy who I stayed in touch with over the years.”
Haley’s former coach Phil Jackson also sent out his condolences via Twitter.
Another former player, Chicago Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson said in a statement that the Chicago Bulls family was saddened to hear of Haley’s passing.
“Jack was always a supportive and enthusiastic teammate and a valued member of the 1995-96 championship team that went 72-10. He always brought energy and enthusiasm to our organization and we send our condolences to Jack’s family,” Paxson said in a statement.
Haley was known on that team for his friendship with Bulls star Dennis Rodman, and he bristled at suggestions that he primarily served as a babysitter for the eccentric rebounder.
“I’ve felt it’s important to be a part of the greatest team in history and to get out and show people I’m not Dennis’ babysitter,” Haley had told the Chicago Tribune. “I never have been. I’ve been a basketball player from day one.”
The Bulls drafted the 6-foot-10 forward-center as the 97th pick overall in 1987 out of UCLA, where he played three seasons and helped the Bruins win the NIT championship in 1985.
Haley played 9 years in the NBA, for Chicago Bulls, New Jersey Nets, LA Lakers and San Antonio Spurs. Haley averaged career-best 5.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg in 1990-91 for New Jersey. He sat out the entire 1992-93 season because of injury.
Haley was on the record-setting 1995-96 Chicago Bulls team, that won 72 regular season games and went on to capture the NBA title that year. During his NBA career, Haley played in 341 games (starting in 54), averaging 3.5 ppg, 2.7 rpg in 9.6 mpg.
After his playing career ended, Haley worked as an assistant for the Nets and later as a broadcaster on Lakers telecasts. He lived in the Orange County city of Seal Beach.
Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said in a statement that Haley was “a hard worker and always very professional.”
“He was proud to wear the Lakers uniform, and he was always a credit to our organization and the Lakers family,” Kupchak said.
Haley appeared in the movies “Eddie” and “Rebound,” and was in the music video for “Love in an Elevator” by Aerosmith. He is survived by his sons Jack Jr. and Jeff, his mother Jeanette, brother Tim, sister Sondra and ex-wife Stacey.
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