Richard Drew/Associated Press
Longtime NBA coach Stan Albeck died at the age of 89 on Thursday, his son John confirmed to the San Antonio Express-News.
Albeck had been in hospice care since suffering a stroke March 14, the second he’d experienced since 2001.
The Illinois native coached the San Antonio Spurs, Cleveland Cavaliers, New Jersey Nets and Chicago Bulls throughout parts of the 1970s and 1980s. He last served as an assistant coach with the Toronto Raptors at the turn of the millennium, when the first stroke he suffered left him partially paralyzed.
In 574 career games on the sidelines, Albeck went 307-267, twice reaching the Western Conference Finals with the Spurs in 1982 and 1983.
Said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich (h/t Associated Press):
“Coach Albeck wasn’t just important to the Spurs, he was what I call a lifer. 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 played at Chenoa High School in Central Illinois before going on to college ball at nearby Bradley University. A year after his college playing days ended in 1955, Albeck began his coaching career at Adrian College in Michigan and would go on to split 50 years coaching in the NCAA, NBA and ABA.