Sean Rooks was remembered Wednesday for his enthusiasm and passion for basketball by the teams he worked for and others who were considering hiring him.
The former NBA player and Philadelphia 76ers assistant coach died Tuesday at 46. He had interviewed earlier in the day for an assistant coaching spot on the staff of recently hired New York Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek.
''His ability to work with big players and his passion for coaching were undeniable,'' Hornacek said in a statement.
Rooks played 12 seasons after being selected in the second round of the NBA draft by Dallas in 1992. He averaged 6.2 points in 749 games with seven teams.
He had spent the previous two seasons on the staff of Brett Brown in Philadelphia and had recently entered negotiations with the Charlotte Hornets to coach their new NBA Development League team, the Greensboro Swarm.
Brown, who learned of Rooks' death while in Istanbul, said Rooks ''meant so much to so many people.''
''It was exciting for me to sit with him recently and see the enthusiasm he had while preparing to interview for the head coach position with an NBA D-League team,'' Brown said. ''We would role-play, ask each other different questions, and when he left I felt like he had a real chance to make a significant advancement in his own coaching career.''
Hornets general manager Rich Cho said Rooks had been working tirelessly to become a better coach.
''When talking with Sean, you immediately understood why he was so beloved by teammates, coaches and those that worked with him,'' Cho said. ''Our thoughts and prayers are with Sean's family and friends during this time.''
Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr remembered the fellow Arizona Wildcat at the NBA Finals.
''He was a gentle giant,'' Kerr said. ''He always had a smile on his face ... heart of a teddy bear. I'm devastated for his family, especially his kids.''
Rooks had two children: Kameron, a 7-footer playing for California, and daughter Khayla.