Mark Eaton – the man who missed more triple-doubles because of points…
When I met Utah’s Jeremy Evans, as a co-judge in a dunk contest for Sprite, I told him how disappointed I was that he didn’t try to dunk over Mark Eaton after he brought him out on the court during the 2013 NBA Dunk Contest. Then I told him how cool it was that he brought out the unappreciated Jazz great.
When talking about Utah Jazz greats, the names Stockton and Malone usually come up first and one is rarely mentioned without the other. If a third name was added to the chemistry and success of the Utah Jazz during the Stockton to Malone (Hammer Dunk!) era, it would be coach Jerry Sloan. One name that deserves more recognition — not just for this era, but in conversations about exceptional big men of the past — is 7’4″ Mark Eaton.
Eaton played 11 years in the league, all with the Utah Jazz. The first three were with Jazz great Adrian Dantley and the underrated Darrell Griffith aka Dr Dunkenstien and the last eight were with Hall of Famers Stockton and Malone.
Eaton was a two-time Defensive player of the year winner, who made 1st or 2nd All-Defensive team five straight years between 1984 and 1989. During that final year on the list, he also made his first and only All-Star appearance, joining teammates John Stockton (averaging 16 points and 13 assists a game) and Karl Malone (averaging 27 and 10). He didn’t lead the league in blocks that season like he did four out of the previous five years, but he still had his share of impressive games that would probably have him in the argument of one of the best centers in the league if he was playing today.
Here’s a few games from that season.
- 8pts 9rebs 14blks
- 15pts 23rebs 4blks
- 14pts 17rebs 9blks
- 14pts 12rebs 8blks
- 6pts 12rebs 11blks
- 7pts 17rebs 11blks
- 12pts 25rebs 6blks
If you want to pick on his scoring output, keep in mind that Malone, Thurl Bailey, Stockton and Griffith were combining for 80 points a game.
The most shocking thing about his stats is how often he missed a triple-double because of points. In his last seven seasons, he missed a triple-double five times because he had less than 10 points; 16 games where he was just one to two points, rebounds or blocks away from a triple-double. The number of missed triple-doubles is probably much higher but I can’t find his block totals during his first three seasons in the league. Of those three, he lead the league in blocks in two of those and in 1984, he averaged 10 points, 11 rebounds and 5.6 blocks a game!