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Longtime NBA coach Stan Albeck dies at age 89

Having coached in college, the ABA and the NBA, Albeck helmed staffs for Cavaliers, Spurs, Nets and Bulls during a 46-year career.

Official release

Stan Albeck, shown here coaching the San Antonio Spurs, died Thursday at 89 years old.

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Stan Albeck, the former San Antonio, Cleveland, New Jersey and Chicago head coach during a long NBA career, died Thursday in hospice care at son John’s home. He was 89.

John Albeck told the San Antonio Express-News his father entered hospice care Thursday after having a stroke March 14. He also had a stroke in 2001 while an assistant coach with Toronto.

Albeck coached the ABA’s Denver Rockets in 1970-71, then directed Cleveland in 1979-80, San Antonio from 1980-83, New Jersey from 1983-85 and Chicago in 1985-86 — with Michael Jordan in his second season.

He took San Antonio to consecutive Western Conference Finals in 1982 and 1983. The Spurs had a moment of silence to honor Albeck before their game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night.

“Coach Albeck wasn’t just important to the Spurs, he was what I call a lifer,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “People like myself don’t come close to loving the game as he did, and his whole family did. They participated in so many ways and followed him so many places.

“He would come to games, he would talk to players, talk to us as coaches. He always had a smile for us, a suggestion or two — because he’s a coach. … He is somebody we always respected and he brought a bright light to wherever he was.”

Albeck grew up in Chenoa, Illinois, and starred at Bradley. He got his first head coaching job at Adrian College in Michigan in 1956, and spent 14 seasons as a college head coach at Adrian, Northern Michigan and the University of Denver before joining the Rockets’ staff in 1970.

Albeck was inducted into the Bradley University Sports Hall of Fame in 1981 and the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame in 2014.

The Spurs released the following statement on the famiy’s behalf:

Longtime coach Stan Albeck passed away this afternoon in San Antonio, at the home of his son Jon.

Albeck’s coaching career spanned 46 years and included stops in college, the ABA and the NBA. In the professional ranks he served as a head coach for the Denver Rockets, Cleveland Cavaliers, San Antonio Spurs, New Jersey Nets and Chicago Bulls. As an assistant he enjoyed stints with the Denver Rockets, San Diego Conquistadors, Kentucky Colonels, Los Angeles Lakers, New Jersey Nets, Atlanta Hawks and Toronto Raptors. Albeck suffered a stroke in 2001 while serving as an assistant coach with Toronto.

Albeck was born on May 17, 1931 in Chenoa, Illinois. After a stellar collegiate career, he was inducted into the Bradley University Sports Hall of Fame in 1981. He was later inducted into the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame in 2014.

He and wife Phyllis were the parents of five children, Gary, Sheree, Jon, Roger and Julie.