Former Bulls, Lakers player Jack Haley dead at 51
Jack Haley, who played nine seasons in the NBA including a reserve role on the Chicago Bulls' 1996 championship team, has died. He was 51.
Haley's family confirmed his death, saying the cause was heart disease. He died Monday at Los Alamitos Medical Center, according to the Orange County coroner's office website. There were no indications of foul play and an autopsy will be performed, the coroner said.
Haley played for the Bulls, New Jersey Nets, Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs during his career, when he averaged 3.5 points and 2.7 rebounds mostly as a reserve. He sat out the entire 1992-93 season because of injury.
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 with the NIT championship in 1985.
He graduated from Huntington Beach High and spent one season at Golden West College before transferring to UCLA. He played in Spain before joining the Bulls.
Haley had two different stints with the Bulls, starting his career with them and then returning to the team in 1995-96. He appeared in only the final game of the regular season, scoring five points in seven minutes. He didn't make the playoff roster, and the Michael Jordan-led Bulls set a record for victories in a season, going 72-10 on their way to winning the NBA title.
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 baby sitter 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 told the Chicago Tribune. ''I never have been. I've been a basketball player from Day One.''
Rodman posted a photo of Haley kissing him on the cheek on Twitter, with the comment, ''RIP to my brother Jack Haley. Sending love to his family.''
Former Bulls star Scottie Pippen tweeted, ''Very sorry to hear my old teammate, Jack Haley, has passed away. Great guy who I stayed in touch with over the years. RIP.''
After his playing career ended, Haley worked as an assistant for the Nets under current Kentucky coach John Calipari, who tweeted, ''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.''
Haley later worked as a broadcaster on Lakers telecasts. He lived in the Orange County city of Seal Beach.
''He cherished every moment and gave 100 percent 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,'' Haley's family said in a statement issued Tuesday through the Lakers.
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.