Former Laker Jack Haley passes away at 51

March 18, 2015

Jack Haley, a local Huntington Beach High School and UCLA product who played nine seasons in the NBA, has died at age 51.  In a statement, Haley's family confirmed the cause of death was heart disease.

Haley was a rugged 6'10" role player during his NBA career who provided teams with energy, rebounds, and toughness.  He played for the Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs, and New Jersey Nets.

“Jack was a hard worker and always very professional," said Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak in a statement.  "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 this time.”

Haley is often remembered for his strong friendship with star Dennis Rodman during his playing days, first with San Antonio and later with the title-winning Bulls.

When Rodman clashed with his coaches in San Antonio, Haley was perceived as the only person in the organization capable of communicating effectively with the mercurial star.  Their friendship had all the makings of an NBA odd couple, as Haley was the California surfer with the positive attitude, and Rodman was the authority-defying loner.  In truth, the pair were two kindred spirits.

Later, when Rodman was traded to Chicago, it was no coincidence that Haley followed, as the Bulls wanted The Worm's transition to be as smooth as possible.

Rodman put out the following tweet on Haley, "RIP to my brother Jack Haley. Sending love to his family."

Still, the perception that Haley was just Rodman's babysitter was unfair because Haley had made the league on his own, and brought his own value to teams as a hardworking, team-oriented big man off the bench.

Several of those Bulls teammates came forward to express their thoughts on Haley, including Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen, who 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."

The Haley family issued the following statement about his passing:
It is with great sadness that the Haley family announces the passing of our beloved father, son, and brother. 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, alongside world-class athletes with the Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs, and New Jersey Nets. 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.

By Staff of and news services

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