Darrell Griffith smiles and speaks in a soft tone when remembering Mark Eaton the teammate. The obvious is that Eaton was a mountain of a man, 7 foot 4 according to his Twitter handle. He was twice NBA Defensive Player of the Year. He was once an All-Star, and he’s certainly one of the best defensive players to ever lace up a pair of sneakers.

But, he was more to that for Griffith and a generation of Utah Jazz teams that made their mark in an extremely competitive NBA in the 1980s. He was their enforcer, he was their protector. He was someone who erased mistakes defensively. And the Utah Jazz didn’t become a winning franchise until Eaton made his mark on the league.

“He used to save our asses when one of the guys we were guarding beat us to the hole,” Griffith told The Athletic on Saturday.

Thurl Bailey speaks of Eaton the person in his trademark deep voice. He talks of speaking with Eaton just a few days ago.



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