Jack Haley, a former reserve center on several NBA teams, has died at 51. Always known for his free-wheeling attitude on and off the basketball court, Haley even appeared in a music video for Aerosmith, reported the Huffington Post.
Haley began his journey to the pros at Huntington Beach High School as a power forward and center, the positions he played throughout his career. At 6 feet, 10 inches tall, Haley played his college hoops at UCLA, famed for taking promising high school athletes and turning them into well-schooled players who were ready for the NBA draft. Jack played three seasons for the UCLA Bruins, including their 1985 NIT championship.
Selected by the Chicago Bulls in the fourth round of the 1987 NBA draft, Haley played one season for the bulls. He then played for the Nets, Lakers and Spurs before returning to the Bulls for their remarkable 1995-96 seasons. Haley spent most of the season injured as the Bulls won a record-setting 72 regular season games and an NBA Championship.
As a player for the Bulls, Jack and Dennis Rodman formed a close friendship. But Haley didn’t hesitate to slam those who insinuated that he was only on the Bulls to keep Dennis Rodman focused on basketball and out of trouble. Jack was, above all, a basketball player, and proud of it, he told the media.
“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.”
His former pals and players honored Haley on Twitter.
“RIP to my brother Jack Haley. Sending love to his family,” wrote Rodman.
“Very sorry to hear my old teammate, Jack Haley, has passed away. Great guy who I stayed in touch with over the years. RIP,” posted Scottie Pippen.
“Jack was one of the most positive, upbeat guys I’ve ever been around. He was on that unbelievable 1996 championship team in Chicago. Sad day,” tweeted John.
After his playing career ended, Haley also served as a Nets assistant for John Calipari. Following his brief stint as a coaching assistant, Jack worked as a broadcaster on the Lakers pre-game show, and he was featured in two movies, Eddie and Rebound.
In his personal life, Haley loved music, reported MSN. During his travels, Jack paid tribute at “The Doors” singer Jim Morrison’s grave by depositing a bottle of whiskey. He even appeared in a music video by Aerosmith, “Love In An Elevator.”
Haley’s cause of death was heart disease, according to his family. But what would cause heart disease to kill someone in apparently good health? As the Inquisitr reported recently, the “Miller High Life” guy also passed away unexpectedly. Windell D. Middlebrooks was only 36, and he was also reportedly in seemingly good health.
In his case, an autopsy revealed that the cause was a blood clot. An autopsy also is scheduled to be performed on Jack Haley, which may reveal more details.
[Photo By Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images]