Former NBA journeyman player Jack Haley has passed away at the age of 51 due to heart disease.
Jack Haley has passed away at the age of 51.
Haley's family released a statement via a March 17 udpate from The Los Angeles Times' Chris Foster:
"Our hearts are broken by this sudden, unexpected loss. Jack was honored and grateful for the opportunity to play in the NBA for nine years...He cherished every moment and gave 100% whether on or off the court. And more than anything, Jack dearly loved his family. We are humbled and grateful for the outpouring of love, support and prayers from around the country."
Foster confirmed Haley passed away due to heart disease. The Orange County coroner's office website (via ESPN) reveals Haley died on Monday, March 16, at Los Alamitos Medical Center. The coroner's office ruled out foul play and said an autopsy will be performed.
Haley, a Los Angeles native and son of a champion surfer, was born on Jan. 27, 1964. He first played basketball at Golden West College before transferring to UCLA. The Chicago Bulls drafted him in the fourth round (79th overall) of the 1987 NBA draft. He then played for the Bulls, the then-New Jersey Nets, Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs, per Foster.
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak released a statement about Haley's death in The Los Angeles Times update. "Jack was a hard worker and always very professional," Kupchak said. "He was proud to wear the Lakers uniform, and he was always a credit to our organization and the Lakers family. Our condolences go out to his family and friends at the time."
For his part, Chicago Bulls executive John Paxson sent an email to The Chicago Tribune's Fred Mitchell on Tuesday which raves about Haley's enthusiasm. "Jack was always a supportive and enthusiastic teammate," Paxson wrote. "He didn't play a lot of game minutes but practiced hard and always helped our team get better in those situations. Our condolences to his family."
Mitchell says Haley first strutted his wares overseas in Spain before joining the Bulls for the 1988-89 NBA season. He suited up in 51 games that year and in 11 games the following season before playing for the Nets.
Haley rejoined the 72-win and eventual NBA champion Bulls team in 1995 but played in just one game due to tendinitis in his left knee. Haley, who was close to the enigmatic Dennis Rodman, told Mitchell back then how good he felt when he took the floor in spite of his injury:
"It felt good to finally get in a game. I was real excited and my adrealine was pumping. I haven't played in a year. I missed some easy shots. I guess I was aggressive. I took almost a shot per minute played.
"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. I never have been. I've been a basketball player from Day One."
Haley concluded his nine-year NBA stint with 1,180 points for a 3.5 points-per-game average, per Mitchell. He then spent his post-NBA career as a Nets assistant coach, a Lakers pre-game co-host and part-time actor.
He is survived by his sons Jack and Jeff, per ESPN.
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