Longtime NBA, ABA coach Stan Albeck dies at 89

Longtime NBA and ABA coach Stan Albeck — seen here with Wilt Chamberlain working for the San Diego Conquistadors — died on Thursday at 89. (AP/Riuchard Drew)

Longtime NBA coach Stan Albeck died on Thursday in hospice care at his son’s home, according to The Associated Press.

He was 89.

Albeck, his son said, suffered a stroke earlier this month and entered hospice care earlier on Thursday. The stroke was his second, following one he suffered in 2001 while he was an assistant with the Toronto Raptors.

Pop: ‘He brought a bright light to wherever he was’

Albeck got his coaching start in professional basketball in the ABA with the Denver Nuggets, where he served as their head coach briefly during the 1970-71 season. He then worked as an assistant with the San Diego Conquistadors and the Kentucky Colonels before a stint with the Lakers.

Albeck made his head coaching return in 1979, when he spent a single season with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He also spent three years with the San Antonio Spurs, two with the New Jersey Nets and one with the Chicago Bulls — where he coached Michael Jordan in his second season in the league.

Albeck finished out his career as an assistant with the Atlanta Hawks and Raptors before retiring in 2002. He finished with a 334-311 overall record as a head coach in both leagues.

Albeck, a Chicago native, also spent two seasons coaching collegiately at Denver and six at Bradley — where he won an MVC title and reached the NCAA tournament in 1988.

“Coach Albeck wasn’t just important to the Spurs, he was what I call a lifer,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said, via the Associated Press. “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.”

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